43% Of Low Income Renters Are In ‘Severe’ Rental Stress & Are At Risk Of Homelessness

Almost half of low income renters are at risk of being pushed into homelessness, a horrifying new government report has revealed.

The Productivity Commission’s latest report on government services, released on Monday, revealed that a staggering 42.9% of low income households living in private rentals were in “severe” rental stress, despite receiving government rent assistance.

Rental stress is defined as a household paying more than 30% of their income on rent.

Further, the report included the revelation that more than a third of people seeking accommodation help did not get their housing needs met, and the number of households on the waiting lists for social housing has hit almost a quarter of a million.

Speaking on the report, CEO of homeless charity Mission Australia Sharon Callister said the lack of available homes was the number one factor.

“This report confirms that cost-of-living pressures and rising rental stress are pushing more people into homelessness at a time when there’s very limited availability of affordable homes to rent,” she said.

“It’s increasing the risk of homelessness for many, including people in paid employment and those who are staring down the barrel of homelessness for the first time in their lives. 

“There isn’t enough accommodation options for everyone who needs it, and these days, finding a rental that’s affordable is like finding a needle in a haystack.”

She said financial intervention from the federal government was urgently needed to prevent an epidemic of homelessness and poverty. The charity has called for at least a 50% increase to rent assistance, and a lift to income support payments to at least $78 a day.

It matches calls from other housing organisations as well. Earlier today, Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize said a cost-of-living relief package was urgent, and any assistance must focus on housing as a priority.

“Housing stress is through the roof. Many Australians on the lowest incomes are missing out on rent assistance completely,” she said.

“Even those who get the payment are struggling to make ends meet. The latest rent assistance increase has already been swallowed up by surging rents.

“As Labor MPs meet to discuss cost-of-living relief this week, they can’t ignore the greatest cost to household budgets – housing. Australians need action to bring rents down now.”

The government has hinted at a cost-of-living package to come, but is so far remaining tight lipped on what that could be. Labor MPs will meet in Canberra on Wednesday to consider the package, as well as discuss possible changes to the incoming stage three tax cuts.