Crisis as affordable homes for those on low incomes drops
THE NUMBER of affordable houses for people on low incomes to rent in the Clarence Valley has fallen by 11% in the past year, a study has revealed.
Anglicare North Coast participated in the 2014 National Rental Affordability Snapshot, which looked at the number of rental properties available to people on low and fixed incomes.
Anglicare North Coast executive director Estelle Graham said the situation was getting worse for the people who could least afford it.
"There is a mismatch between the amount of housing available and the number of people who need it most," Ms Graham said.
"It doesn't get better. In fact it has got worse each time we have taken part in the snapshot."
She said for some of the most disadvantaged people, such as single people on Newstart or Youth Allowance, singles sharing on Youth Allowance or a single person with a child on Newstart, there was no affordable rental accommodation.
But she said the problem occurred across all areas in the snapshot.
"It's not just young people. It's people over 60 on fixed incomes, people on the minimum wage and people on benefits who are struggling," she said.
Ms Graham said Anglicare feared what might be coming in the Federal Budget on May 13.
"What we're hearing out of Canberra at the moment is worrying," Ms Graham said.
"Anything that impacts negatively on these people is going to make their situation worse.
"They're talking about cuts to services like counselling. How do people work through a minefield of debt without these sort of services?"
Ms Graham said there needed to be a big-picture approach to the problem.
"The Federal Government needs to appoint a dedicated Minister for Housing who has a senior role in Cabinet," she said.
"The government needs to adopt a comprehensive approach to increase the supply of social housing."
At a local level, Anglicare North Coast has established a fund to allow it to set up its own affordable housing project.
"We've set up the Affordable Housing Foundation, which is a long-term project to let us buy our own properties," she said.
"We're looking for individuals and organisations to make contributions and for businesses to set up workplace donations."
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE?
For the purposes of this snapshot, an affordable rental is one that takes up less than 30% of the household's income, a commonly used benchmark of affordability. Household incomes are derived from the maximum rate of Centrelink benefit or the minimum wage (after tax), combined with the Commonwealth Rent Assistance and Family Tax Benefits, where applicable. These affordable data points are compared with the listed rentals on the snapshot collection day.