Affordability of rentals for people with disability hits lowest point

Posted 1 year ago by Anna Christian
Almost all of the rentals available across Australia are unaffordable for single people on the Disability Support Pension, in an already competitive market. [Source: Shutterstock]
Almost all of the rentals available across Australia are unaffordable for single people on the Disability Support Pension, in an already competitive market. [Source: Shutterstock]

Statistics from social advocacy organisation Anglicare Australia have shown only 51 rentals in the whole of Australia were affordable for people on the Disability Support Pension – the lowest number ever seen.

Anglicare Australia’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot is a dataset collected on a weekend in March and shows the number of rentals available in Australia, as well as how many were considered affordable for a range of different people.

This year’s snapshot was taken on 19 March and counted 45,992 rental listings across the country.

Only 0.1 percent (51) of those rentals were affordable for single people on the Disability Support Pension (DSP).

For a single person on JobSeeker, the payment that many people with disability who are unable to get the DSP find themselves on, the situation was even worse.

The number of rentals affordable on Jobseeker was 0 percent (7) for a single person, all of which were share houses, and 0.2 percent (78) for a couple, both on JobSeeker, with two young children.

Anglicare Australia Executive Kasy Chambers says the affordability figures for 2022 are the worst ever seen because of a combination of low incomes and high rent.

“In thirteen years of putting together our Snapshot, we’ve never seen a result this bad for people with disability,” says Ms Chambers.

“The private rental market is failing Australians with disability.

“Across Australia, we found just 51 rentals that were affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension out of almost 46,000 listings. That means that 99.9 percent of rental homes are out of reach.”

Anglicare Australia’s statistics take into account Government payments like Commonwealth Rent Assistance as well, to give a more complete picture of how people with as much income support as possible are still experiencing widespread financial and housing stress.

However, the Snapshot does not measure the suitability of houses for people with disability, who may need home modifications, have accessibility requirements or find shared homes unsuitable.

“Our numbers already include the highest rates of rent assistance and even those that are affordable might not meet the needs of people with disabilities – many are not accessible, and most are rooms in sharehouses,” explains Ms Chambers.

The rental market has become more unaffordable for single people on the DSP since last year’s snapshot, when 0.3 percent (236) were affordable, although the number of rentals available to single people on JobSeeker was effectively the same at 0 percent (3).

The availability of rentals for a couple on JobSeeker with two children was also higher last year, at 0.4 percent (271).

The Snapshot report notes that the biggest difference between 2021 and 2022 is actually the total number of listed rentals, which dropped by nearly a third this year, meaning the availability of rentals in general is much worse.

Ms Chambers says fixing the issue of rental affordability and availability should be a top priority for the upcoming Federal Election.

“Yet we’ve heard almost nothing at this Election about what will be done to fix the problem,” adds Ms Chambers.

“We’re calling on whoever wins the election to boost affordable housing.

“Our shortfall is massive – we need 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia.

“If we don’t invest in affordable, disability-friendly homes, too many young people with disabilities will end up living their lives in aged care.

“We’re asking all parties and candidates to step up and help people with disabilities find a home.”

Anglicare Australia specifically wants the new Government elected on 21 May to:

  • reform the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment to match the increase in rent and to kick in before people experience financial stress
  • Build 25,000 social housing dwellings per year
  • Strengthen rental laws to prevent unfair evictions and unfair rent increases
  • Fix the tax system that currently favours people with high incomes through negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions
  • Expand programs that support people on low incomes to find homes
  • Continue the National Rental Affordability Scheme