‘Rents too high for poor citizens’
Wednesday, 7th May, 2014
By Nick Gibbs
Attention has been drawn to Broken Hill’s expensive rental market with the latest report from one community organisation suggesting there are no properties available for people relying on certain welfare payments.
According to Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot compiled in April, there were only three appropriate properties available for a single parent household with one child receiving a Parenting Payment and none for single parents with one child on Newstart.
Of the 48 properties listed, none were classified as suitable for singles on Youth Allowance or singles on Newstart.
Anglicare Western General Manager, Brad Addison, said the findings reflected a national trend and were significantly affected by the Federal Government’s decision to move single parents with children over eight onto Newstart.
“We are calling for an immediate increase to the Newstart and Youth Allowance payments,” he said, adding that evidence suggested young people here were relying on friends and ‘couch surfing’ to avoid ending up on the street.
Mr Addison said the main factor that determined whether a property was appropriate was the space available and the number of bedrooms required.
“A lot of families are in inappropriate housing,” he said.
If rent cost more than 30 percent of a household’s total income, it is deemed unaffordable, and Anglicare is calling for an increase of $50 per week to the Newstart and Youth Allowance payments to keep pace with cost of living.
However, Mr Addison said the pre-budget discussion from the Federal Government did not leave him feeling confident.
“We are really fearful, particularly when the Federal Government is saying things like everyone has to carry their weight,” he said.
BH St Vincent de Paul Conference President Phil Sky agreed a $50 per week increase was ‘a good place to start’ and he was also worried about the impact the budget would have on Centrelink payments.
“Who knows what’s in next week’s surprises?” he said.
“I think it’s making everyone a bit nervous.”
Mr Sky said St Vinnie’s had seen an increase in the number of people requesting rent assistance and felt many properties being occupied were substandard.
He cited one client living with mould in their home and having trouble getting their land agent to fix it.
The report also said that the waiting lists for public housing in the city offered little relief.
Average waiting times go from two years for one and two-bedroom houses, two to five years for a three-bedroom house and five to 10 years for a four-bedroom house.