Rental Affordability Snapshot | At-risk Victorians more vulnerable than ever during COVID-19 pandemic

30th April 2020

Continuing the current Jobseeker payment would make up to three times the number of rental properties affordable for some groups on lower incomes, according to the latest Rental Affordability Snapshot report released by Anglicare Victoria today.

The report shows that prior to the increase, almost no properties across the state were affordable for those looking for work or earning the minimum wage.

Anglicare Victoria recommends a permanent increase in the Jobseeker payment and targeted investment in social and emergency housing to ease the pressure at the bottom of the rental market.

Anglicare Victoria’s Rental Affordability Snapshot surveyed close to 20,000 rental listings across the state and found that:

  • Couples with children, single parent households, and singles benefit considerably with the additional support from the temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker payment. Some households now have access to three times as many rental properties than on the previous payment scheme – though this is starting from a very low base.
  • Just 94 rentals out of 19,435 (less than one per cent) are affordable for a person on the temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker payment, which is available for six months to those without a job in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Once the temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker payment expires, and without promise of a permanent increase, zero rental properties out of a possible 19,435 would be affordable for a single person household.
  • The temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker payment allows households on income support to afford 6 per cent of suitable rentals in Victoria. Without a permanent payment increase, only 2.2 per cent of rentals would be available to these people.
  • Pensioners and people with a disability have been left behind, with no increase to their support payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Rental properties in Regional Victoria are significantly more affordable for households that are now receiving the temporary Coronavirus Jobseeker rate. A household where both adults are entitled to the increased payment could have access to up to 38 per cent of affordable rentals, compared to just 3 per cent.

Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria, said:

“Anglicare Victoria has been campaigning for change through the rental affordability survey for 10 years. For the first time in a decade we have now the availability of housing affordability become within reach for some of those on benefits and pensions or low incomes”.

“Our most vulnerable Victorians have lived through a decade of disadvantage. The COVID-19 crisis shows us now, more than ever, that everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home – the simple shift of increasing Jobseeker, as been experienced during COVID-19 can change the face of our housing access crisis“.

“Both state and federal governments could alleviate some stress for people doing it tough with a couple of simple changes. Continue with Job Seeker payment levels for 2021, while pumping funds into social housing stock to transition the homeless from temporary shelter during COVID-19 to ongoing affordable stock.”

“Secondly, we know how hard a post COVID environment will hit our young people population in the form or housing and employment access. I am calling for a united national policy to extend state care until the remainder of the year for at-risk young people who are due to age out of state care in 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Research has shown that this vulnerable group is at much higher risk of homelessness compared to others of a similar age, and represent over 63 per cent of the youth homeless population. Extending the provision of care will ensure that youth homelessness decreases by over 50% during COVID-19 and fulfil our obligations as their guardians. They should not be expected to fend for themselves during this current crisis.”


About the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot

Anglicare Victoria’s 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot (RAS) was conducted as part of the national Snapshot undertaken by Anglicare Australia. The RAS is an advocacy initiative developed by Anglicare Australia to highlight housing issues for lower income households and lobby for policy changes on rental affordability at the national and local levels.

The RAS defines an affordable rental as one which costs less than 30% of the household’s total income.

The Victorian Rental Affordability Snapshot 2020 covered 31 Local Government Areas (LGAs) from across metropolitan Melbourne, as well as 48 LGAs from the regional and coastal areas of Victoria.

The aim of the Snapshot is to calculate the proportion of advertised rental properties that are both affordable and appropriate for different household types on the minimum wage, or on a Commonwealth income support payment or pension. These individuals and families make up much of Anglicare Victoria’s client base within our family support programs, family violence services, alcohol-and-other-drug treatment programs, out-of-home-care services, and other program areas. These are some of our society’s most vulnerable people.

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