Report reveals Macarthur renters under significant financial stress

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

A new report has revealed it is a potentially dangerous time for many low-income households across south-west Sydney in terms of housing security.

Anglicare Sydney's 2021 Rental Affordability Snapshot for Sydney and the Illawarra has revealed that rental prices across the region have surged.

Anglicare's acting program manager for south-west Sydney, Erica Jones, said the majority of the organisation's clients were under significant rental stress.

"People can't afford their basic necessities, they can't cater to their essential needs because they are paying rent," she said.

"There are a significant number of requests for rental arrears assistance, particularly for single parent families simply because there is not a supply of affordable housing to suit their needs."

Ms Jones said even with a $50 per fortnight increase in JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and Parenting Payment, there were still no affordable properties for many people relying on those payments.

"Even with that supplement, people are still in the same position as they were before because rental prices have risen at the same time," she said.

"Everyone deserves to have appropriate accommodation, regardless of their socio-economic background.

"They need to be able to meet all of their essential needs - not just rent but also things like food and electricity.

"We've seen an increase in people seeking out rental arrears assistance but also people using our voucher program so that they can meet those basic needs."

The snapshot report (taken between March 27 to 28) surveyed almost 25,000 rental listings across greater Sydney and the Illawarra and found that:

  • No suitable rentals were found for single parents with one child on the Parenting Payment or Jobseeker, or a single person household on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance.
  • Six rentals were affordable for a single person with two children (one aged under 5 and one aged under 10) where the adult was receiving JobSeeker Payments.
  • 26 rentals were affordable for a single person on the age pension.
  • 117 rentals were affordable for a couple with no children on the age pension.
  • 816 rentals were affordable for a single person with two children (one aged less than 5, one aged less than 10) where the adult was on the minimum wage and family tax benefit A and B.
  • Minimum wage earners had a far greater chance than people on benefits of obtaining housing without being put under housing stress.
  • Median rental prices for houses are at a record high of $550 per week across Greater Sydney but down by 10 per cent for apartments to $470 per week.

Ms Jones said single parent households were at the greatest disadvantage when it came to finding affordable housing.

"Especially women who have escaped domestic violence and have to set up an entire household without that income support," she said.

"My advice to anyone struggling with rental stress is too seek support from services but also there is a need for more government support in this area.

"It is really difficult out there for people living on income support because they are constantly under rental stress."

Anglicare Sydney chief operating officer Bill Farrand highlighted a number of solutions federal and state governments can do to improve rental affordability.

"Immediately raise the rate of JobSeeker, to reduce poverty and rental stress among those currently unemployed," he said.

"Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance and reform eligibility rules for the program, to better target those people needing it most.

"Fifty-one thousand applicants are on the NSW social housing waiting list with waiting times of at least 5-10 years. The NSW Government needs to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.

"Anglicare is already delivering 550 affordable homes under the SAHF, and we are willing to deliver more.

"Improve security and stability for renters in the private rental market, including limiting the frequency of rent increases, improving the security of rental tenures for tenants, and prohibit no grounds evictions."