We need a national conversation on housing

The recent release of the Rental Affordability Index has revealed that although real estate prices may have dropped in some areas, rental affordability, overall, is actually worse for many people across the country.

What the latest figures reveal is that, for example,
· A Newstart recipient cannot afford to rent anywhere, even with Commonwealth Rent Assistance,
· An Aged Pensioner living on their own would have to pay more than 50% of their income in rent in any capital city – and regional areas are also now out of reach for many people, and
· Moderate income households are also paying unaffordably high rents in most suburbs in all capital cities across Australia.

In essence, what this means is that housing affordability continues to be a significant issue for many Australians and that, not surprisingly, our housing system needs urgent fixing.

What we need is a national conversation about housing.

Thankfully, organisations such as Everbody’s Home is encouraging just that. They are encouraging Australians to talk about the state of our housing affordability to help kick start a national conversation about the need to fix a system that is sadly failing a growing number of many Australians .

Their campaign involves five key aims:

  1. Reset our tax system to make it fairer for ordinary Australians wanting to buy a home;
  2. Develop a national strategy to provide more low-cost properties which will mean more choices, making it cheaper and easier to find a home. (At the moment at least 500,000 new low-cost rental homes are needed to meet the demand for affordable housing);
  3. Get rid of “no grounds” evictions and unfair rent rises so that millions of Australian renters have the security they need to create homes, build lives and raise families;
  4. Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance for the thousands of Australians who are struggling to pay their rent; and
  5. Adopt a plan to end homelessness by 2030.

However, their campaign is dependent on Australians understanding the issue and caring enough to take action.

The most important activity we can all undertake as individuals is to increase awareness about the plight of housing affordability and tell others and our elected representatives that our current trajectory is woefully insufficient.

We do know that in lead up to the 2019 federal election, Labor promised to provide 250,000 new affordable rental homes, as well as change the tax system to help improve afforability overall. However, with that election resulting in a government mostly disinterested towards improving our existing housing system, we need to re-energise a grassroots effort to put the issue squarely on the national political agenda.

For those that care, for those who see housing as a basic human right, we can all take a part in that effort.

Rod Beisel

To find out more about Everybody’s Home and their campaign visit their website https://everybodyshome.com.au/

To read the latest Rental Affordability Index report visit https://www.sgsep.com.au/projects/rental-affordability-index

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