The welfare organisation Anglicare has warned that less than 2 per cent of rental homes in Sydney and the Illawarra are affordable for those relying on government benefits.
Anglicare Sydney Chief Executive Peter Kell says public housing stocks must be rapidly increased if Australia is to remain “a decent country”.
Mr Kell says a decent country feeds, educates and houses its people, but nearly 60 per cent of Anglicare clients are now asking for help because there is no public housing available and private rentals are unaffordable.
“There are many, many people who are struggling, so we are really developing these two tiers of haves and have nots in Australia,” Mr Kell said.
“We know that there is a really severe problem, but the government’s got to start working at it.”
Anglicare Sydney along with its sister organisations in other states have today released rental affordability snapshots for low income households.
In Sydney and the Illawarra region around Wollongong, Anglicare researchers found 1.6 per cent of rental homes could be afforded by people receiving government benefits.
That includes students, aged pensioners, sole parents and carers and the disabled and unemployed, along with low income earners receiving rent assistance.
Out of 10,200 houses advertised for rent, only 123 were rated as affordable, where the rent was less than 30 per cent of income for someone on government benefits.
Mr Kell says there was very little on offer for people in Sydney particularly.
“There was two at St Marys, one in Fairfield, four in Penrith, none in Blacktown, none in Campbelltown, none in Parramatta, none in Liverpool at all,” he said.
The report says low income earners are being pushed out of Sydney, out of sight and out of mind, to areas where there are fewer services and jobs.
“We’re talking 600,000 to a million households, a significant part of the Australian population, who don’t have proper housing,” Mr Kell said
Anglicare says addressing the problem should be a higher priority than bringing the budget into surplus.
“We understand that rental assistance is one of the areas that the government is likely to look at to reduce, now rental assistance needs to be increased for people on the margins,” Mr Kell said.
He says the Federal Government has spoken with good intentions about homelessness while states have been selling public housing stock off.
Anglicare estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 new social and public houses are needed for New South Wales alone.
Across Australia it says 220,000 homes need to built in the next decade.
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