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Renters suffering

Low-income renters in Shepparton are suffering from severe housing stress, new research has revealed.

DARREN LINTON February 7, 2013 4:10am

Low-income earners in Shepparton are suffering severe housing stress, with the percentage of income spent on accommodation reaching as much as 53 per cent of weekly earnings.

Tenants Union of Victoria said spending 30 per cent or more of household income on rent was considered an indicator of housing stress.

Its recently released Regional Affordability Bulletin found a single recipient of the Centrelink’s Austudy allowance would have 53.5 per cent of their income soaked up renting a one-bedroom flat in Shepparton.

A single jobseeker on Newstart would spend almost 46 per cent of their income.

A single Newstart recipient sharing a two-bedroom flat would be a little better off, but would still spend 35 per cent of income on rent, while a single pensioner would spend 32 per cent.

Housing stress was equally high for a couple on benefits with two children (35.6 per cent), but housing is significantly more affordable for the same grouping on either average weekly earnings (17 per cent) or a minimum wage (27.8 per cent).

The consequence of spending more than 30 per cent of earnings on housing is this expense then puts the individual or family income below the poverty line.

Tenants union policy worker Mike Williams said the figures showed the true extent of regional Victoria’s rental affordability problem.

‘‘A decade ago 80 per cent of rental properties in regional areas would be considered affordable according to the government’s own Rental Report,’’ he said.

‘‘Today, the figure is just 56 per cent.

‘‘Jobseekers, pensioners and students in regional areas should call on the Commonwealth Government to increase the rate of rental assistance, which is woefully inadequate.’’

Mr Williams said the Victorian Government should also announce its plans to increase affordability for renters in the regions where jobs and essential services were lacking.

‘‘With increasing public housing waiting lists in regional areas, urgent action is required to address demand for public housing assistance from renters who cannot afford to stay in the private market,’’ he said.

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