Australia’s ongoing rental crisis is causing several flow-on effects in regional communities, according to a report released by Anglicare late last month.
Anglicare’s Chief Executive Kasy Chambers has called for changes to be made across the board, such as a return to fully publicly funded social and affordable housing, with less reliance on the private sector.
She also called for changes to current schemes such as negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions and commonwealth rent assistance.
“We now spend more commonwealth dollars per capita on those three payments than we ever did on housing, and yet housing affordability has never been lower,” Ms Chambers told the National Press Club on Tuesday.
“Anyone can see that this approach is failing.”
These issues have had a major impact on regional areas around Australia, with many country towns recording rental availability of less than 0.1 per cent, as they struggle to keep up with population growth.
Anglicare’s report indicates that rental affordability in areas such as Southeast NSW was a “significant concern” for vulnerable populations.
Of the 387 private rentals advertised for rent in the region during Anglicare’s snapshot in mid-March, only 2 per cent were deemed affordable for households on income support payments, while just 19 per cent could be afforded by households earning the minimum wage.
Another challenge for renters in the region came about during the COVID pandemic and the resultant change to working from home in many industries. This saw towns in the area attract more buyers from Sydney and Canberra, driving up real estate values in Braidwood, Cooma and Yass by 5-10 per cent.
Member for Indi Helen Haines MP also addressed the Press Club with the issues facing the communities of her electorate, which includes Wangaratta, Benalla and Wodonga in northern Victoria.
“The lack of affordable housing in Indi has consequential flow-on economic impacts,” Ms Haynes said.
“Whenever I speak to a business owner, they tell me they’re unable to fill job vacancies because people cannot find anywhere to live.”
The research also shows a range of other issues arising in country areas due to rental pressures, such as its strain on the aged care system. Pensioners have been forced to move into aged care services earlier than they had planned as they struggle to keep up with increases in rents.
Anglicare has been conducting similar snapshots for the last 10 years, with Ms Chambers adding that there was a belief when they began the research that living in regional areas was easier to afford.
“That wasn’t the truth then and it certainly isn’t now,” she said.