Brand rates in top three WA electorates for rental stress

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
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About 35 per cent of renters in the Brand electorate are in rental stress and struggling to keep a roof over their heads new data has revealed.

According to the University of NSW’s analysis for the national housing campaign Everybody’s Home, Brand is third on the list of top 10 electorates in WA experiencing rental stress, behind Burt and Canning.

The analysis measured rents and incomes to identify the number of households in rental stress.

Data revealed the portion of renters in the Brand electorate suffering rental stress had increased by 33 per cent since 2011, with the electorate’s median rent at $350, a 21 per cent increase since 2011.

More than 5200 of the 14,700 rental households in Brand are estimated to be in rental stress, with renters paying more than 30 per cent of their already low incomes on housing costs.

Shelter WA chief executive Michelle Mackenzie said the number of households suffering rental stress in WA was alarming.

“For many this means that after paying the rent, they may have to make choices between food, using utilities, paying for medicines or transport,” she said.

The data comes after Anglicare released its Rental Affordability Snapshot for 2019 which surveyed more than 69,000 rental listings across Australia, identifying a chronic shortage of affordable rentals.

Out of the 69,000 properties surveyed just one property was identified as affordable and suitable for people receiving Youth Allowance, and only two suitable for a single person on Newstart.

Just 554 properties, or fewer than 1 per cent, were affordable for a single person on the Aged Pension, and only 317 were affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension.

Ms Mackenzie said a lack of secure and affordable private rentals had pushed an expanding amount of people into rental stress and even homelessness.

“A home should not be seen as an optional extra in people’s lives,” she said.

“There is a growing number of older Australians, who either are falling out of home ownership or who have never owned their own home.

“Living on the age pension in many cases means living below the poverty line, and as a result, more older renters are in housing stress compared to the general population.

“We need an affordable housing strategy that ensures that all people in WA have housing that enables them to thrive.”

Shelter WA is calling on the winner of May 18’s Federal election to commit to, and invest in, providing social and affordable housing.

Brand MHR Madeleine King said if elected, Labor planned to increase the amount of affordable rental properties by committing to build 250,000 new affordable homes, with at least 20,000 in Labor’s first term.

“I am very much aware of the pressures of unaffordable rental housing and the high cost of living,” she said.

“This report showing Brand ranks third on the list of top 10 electorates in WA experiencing rental stress demonstrates that everything is going up except people’s wages.

“Labor’s negative gearing policy aims to alleviate this pressure and help ordinary Australians buy their first home by levelling the playing field for first home buyers by axing the loop-hole, which provides tax subsidies for investors buying their sixth or seventh house.”

She said Labor’s commitment to resorting penalty rates within its first 100 days if elected was also integral to alleviating cost of living pressures in Brand.

Greens candidate for Brand Jody Freeman has called on candidates from the major parties to commit to increasing the rate of Newstart as a starting point to address homelessness unfolding in Rockingham.

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