Housing affordability crisis: the impact on Tumut

In the midst of a national housing affordability crisis Tumut has emerged relatively unscathed, the annual Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot has shown.

The snapshot looks at all rental properties available in Australia on a given day and assesses their affordability for low-income households.

Anglicare defines an affordable rental as one where rent takes up 30 per cent or less of weekly disposable income.

In Tumut on the day of the snapshot there were 14 rentals appropriate for those on an income support payment, such as the aged pension, the disability support pension, or newstart. There were 29 rentals appropriate for those on minimum wage.

Comparatively, there were 26 rental properties appropriate for those on an income support payment in the entirety of Greater Sydney and the Illawarra on the same day, an area encompassing over 1.7 million households.

In fact, the Riverina/Murray has among the most reasonable rental prices in Australia, the report found.

On the day of writing (Monday), the cheapest rentals in Tumut were several one-bedroom units for $120 a week. In Sydney suburb Newtown, comparatively, the cheapest rental was a one-bedroom for $310, with one-bedroom units going for in between $310 – $850 a week.

When you consider the fact that the aged pension for a single person is $392 a week, you can see why many elderly people retire in the country.

Similarly, newstart allowance for a single parent with a child above eight years of age is $289 a week – less money than close to all rentals in Sydney, let alone leaving any left over for groceries and other expenses.

According to Numbeo, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney is $456 a week outside the city centre and $644 inside the city centre, which is evidently significantly higher than it is in country areas like Tumut.

However, it’s not all good news in Tumut, the report warned.

Youth unemployment in the Riverina sits at 11.9 per cent, well above the general unemployment level of 4.5 per cent – and despite lower rental costs generally, housing is still too expensive for many young people who want to or have to move out of home, with wait times for public housing also taking years.

“Even in the relatively affordable market of the Riverina/Murray area, there were no properties affordable to any single person whose only income was derived from Youth Allowance, including in shared accommodation options,” the report said.

“One of the most vulnerable populations experiencing exclusion from the housing market is young people leaving care into independence. There is no ongoing financial support provided to carers once their foster children turn 18, which can make it difficult for them to continue providing care.

“Findings from the Swinburne University of Technology’s study ‘The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia’ revealed that almost two-thirds of homeless youth had spent time in state care. This demonstrates the need for a major government review at a policy and systems level if we are to break the cycle of disadvantage experienced by these vulnerable young people.”

With this year’s snapshot, Anglicare have reiterated their voice in the chorus of calls for the government to do something about the housing affordability crisis in Australia.

“It was not very long ago that it was accepted that everyone has a right to a home,” the report said.

“Not just a roof over your head, but a home – a place you know is yours for as long as you want it, that reflects your family, your interests and loves, a place where cherished memories are made, a place that provides essential privacy.

“The truth and value of a home for all of us has not changed, but the willingness of government to see it has the responsibility to ensure everyone can have a home, has.

“Our understanding of the vital importance of home to people’s well being has increased, yet public and community housing numbers have decreased, and successive governments have argued that it is up to the private market to provide a home for all.”

Anglicare is advocating reform of capital gains tax concessions and negative gearing – processes which create a market that favours property investors rather than those in need of housing – with the savings these reforms would generate being directed into increased public and community housing.