Australia's housing crisis, largely hidden, is getting worse

2022-12-19 20:02:45
Australia's housing crisis, largely hidden, is getting worse

Australia’s relentlessly rising rents, eight consecutive interest rate hikes, surging living costs and devastating natural disasters in the past few years have inflamed what was already among the world's least affordable rental markets.

Every state capital city is experiencing a decline in rental affordability this year, according to the annual Rental Affordability Index report published by SGS Economics and Planning.

Across Australia, couples out of work and single parents on government aid face a market where only 0.1% of rentals are affordable, according to another report by not-for-profit welfare group Anglicare.

A person on the minimum wage is barely better off, as wages fail to keep up with spiralling rents. Sydney is listed among the world's top 10 most expensive rental markets by property agency Savills, above cities including Miami and Paris.

In Demographia's International Housing Affordability report this year, Sydney ranked the world's second-least affordable market, behind only Hong Kong.

"You cannot afford a house on your own if you are only working one job," said Maria, 46, a resident at a housing programme run by the not-for-profit Dignity in Campbelltown.

"When I leave here - let's be realistic - it's going to be hard for me if I am by myself."

Rental supply is at the lowest in two decades, pitting renters against record numbers of people who can no longer afford to buy after a surge in house prices.

"We have seen increasingly at the lower end of the market, people on lower incomes, the supply of rental stock available to them is reducing quite significantly, so this could have spillover effects on homelessness," said Cameron Kusher, Director of Economic Research at Data firm PropTrack.

Renters are getting evicted by home-owners looking to jack up rents to keep pace with rising inflation, which is at a 32-year high, welfare groups and renters told Reuters.

Suzanne Hopman, Dignity's CEO, told Reuters they were heading to what could be the busiest Christmas they have ever had, as more and more people seek a place to rest, food and other support.

"We fear there is a tsunami of homelessness about to hit," said Suzanne Hopman, whose shelter in Campbelltown is already packed to capacity.

"Every story of homelessness is different but one thing that we are noticing now is the cost of living and increasing rents, which has put additional pressure on people who were at risk of homelessness, and the lack of housing supply," she added.

Many made homeless end up living in cars or campervans, out of sight from society, the government and the media.

Australia's worst floods on record in the east of the country earlier this year destroyed homes and forced about 40,000 people to evacuate, adding to the housing crisis.



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