Affordable properties down

Despite Gippsland having a “desperate” lack of affordable housing for people on low incomes, the local situation still compares favourably with ‘greater Melbourne’.

Those were the findings of a ‘Rental Affordability Snapshot’ released by Anglicare Victoria last week.

The study revealed that of the nearly 300 properties listed on for rent in Latrobe in mid-April, less than one in 10 were affordable to single-parents on income support.

It also showed there were fewer affordable properties than at the same time last year.

The findings led Anglicare Victoria Gippsland regional manager Jane Anderson to call for more support to single parents so they didn’t “turn to inappropriate or unsafe housing for the family”.

“It’s not good enough that people already under stress are faced with cutting back on fresh food, heating or medicine just to keep a roof over their heads,” she added.

Only 8.8 per cent of rental housing was affordable for single parent households with two children receiving a Parenting Payment, the study said.

Couples fared slightly better with 19.8 per cent of rental housing appropriate for those with two children receiving Newstart Allowance.

As in 2011, there was still no affordable and appropriate housing in Latrobe for single people receiving Newstart Allowance, the study found.

“People are often under the impression that it’s much cheaper to live in the country but these statistics show if you’re a single parent, student or looking for work, your housing options are slim even if you’re not in the city,” Ms Anderson said.

Anglicare head researcher Sez Wilks told The Express despite Latrobe’s dismal affordability figures, the situation was better here than in greater Melbourne.

“But compared with 2011 the proportion of affordable housing has decreased across the board,” she said.

Ms Wilks said a key policy implication of the Anglicare report was “to raise income support levels, for example rental assistance and family payments, because they need more adequate financial support..the real cost (of rent) is way above what has been provided.”

She said landlords had indicated increased costs of their own, including rising taxes, meant it was “hard to keep (rental) costs down”.

“They have told us they are trying to keep costs down but there are pressures on them too,” she said.