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South Australians on low incomes are facing the very real risk of homelessness, with new research showing only one percent of advertised rentals are affordable to them.

The situation is even more dire for single people, people with disabilities, or those on parenting payments with two children – no properties are affordable to them.

Anglicare Australia’s 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot, released today, was taken on 16 March and reveals large groups of individuals and families competed for only 1,615 private rentals advertised in South Australia.

Of the 1,615 listed properties just 17 homes, or one per cent, were affordable for households on income support payments, while for a single person with one or two children on parenting payments there were no affordable properties.

The outlook was equally bleak for a single person on JobSeeker payment or Youth Allowance where no homes were appropriate and affordable. Remarkably, only four properties were affordable and appropriate for those on the government’s most generous benefit, the age pension.

Believe Housing Australia Executive General Manager, Stacey Northover, said as was the case across Australia, renters on low incomes were dealing with the grim reality that government payments had not kept up with the increase in housing costs. 

“There is an acute shortage of affordable homes, increasing dependence on temporary accommodation and government programs in order to access housing,” Ms Northover said.

“Despite South Australia’s recent rental reforms, many young people, couples, and families with young children are struggling to access safe, stable, and affordable homes to live in.

“The scale of the problem extends beyond unemployed households or single, young renters unable to save for their bond; even working couples are finding themselves priced out of South Australia’s rental market.”

While single people were revealed as the most affected in the 2024 snapshot, South Australian households on minimum wage were finding the housing crisis increasingly difficult.

More than 85 per cent (1,372) of available properties were unaffordable to a working couple with two children, who were on minimum wage.

In the wake of the 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot, Believe Housing Australia is calling for investment in more quality social and affordable housing; reforms to the tax system so investors aren’t incentivised to remove housing stock from the market, and; better protection for private renters.

“A properly funded and functioning housing market, where supply meets demand and workers can live in homes near their families and workplaces is essential to the future growth of the state,” Ms Northover said.

“The promise of housing delivery – accelerated by the Commonwealth’s Housing Australia’s Future Fund (HAFF) and the National Housing Accord, and the state’s recent land releases under the Better Housing Future strategy – will be realised more than five years from now.

“Now is the time to plan and fund new projects, yet there seems to be a lack of urgency when it comes to releasing appropriate government funding to invest in new, affordable homes.

“It is therefore critical that HAFF proposals, particularly those received from Tier 1 Housing Providers like Believe Housing Australia and local government planning departments, are fully funded.

“There is much to be done and now is the time for action.”

AnglicareSA is opening doors and creating pathways for Disability & Wellbeing Services customers to be able to live with more independence.

Since August, six customers have moved into brand-new housing accommodation in Adelaide’s northwestern suburbs – a complex which includes three single-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units, as well as a community space, garden, and staff office.

AnglicareSA Manager, Accommodation Services Disability Support, Rebecca Curnow said the customers had previously lived together in a home where they only had their own bedroom and communal kitchen.

“The idea of this housing project was to offer a space where we can support them to develop those independent living skills,” she said.

“We want to help them build those skills, so they are able to do their own thing – things like shopping for themselves rather than communal shopping like they have always done.”

And it wasn’t just about rehousing the customers into a brand-new space, the Disability & Wellbeing Services team also worked on a co-design process with the customers, providing an opportunity to help shop for items, decorate, and set up their spaces how they wanted them.

“We wanted them to have ownership of their future,” Rebecca says. “They deserve to be able to live their best life, they deserve a nice new space to call home.

“It’s a space they have helped create and positive environments build positive people. That’s what we wanted, we wanted them to put their own personality into their homes.”

The residents are able to live independently, even those sharing a three-bedroom unit as the third bedroom is designed as a breakout room to offer a second living space.

And while much of the focus is on supporting independence, there are also opportunities to come together for regular activities and events.

“They have regular Friday barbecues, basketball, exercise circuits in the central garden space, fruit trees and vegetables, and even the local SA Police Community Constables drop in from time to time to challenge the residents to a few games of table tennis.”

Working closely with Believe Housing Australia, the tenants are learning about their responsibilities of living independently – tasks like housekeeping and maintaining the neatness of a property.

“We are hoping they can learn, grow, and develop these skills to a point where some perhaps see it as an opportunity to be able to live independently without the around-the-clock staffing support on offer at this property,” Rebecca said.

“In such a short space of time they have become so house proud.

“They have told staff to knock on their door any time and they’ll let them know if they are busy, or they are asking for advice on things such as how to fix up a mark on the wall.

“They take great pride in where they live.”

Minimum wage workers are failing to keep a roof over their heads, with just two rental properties found affordable from more than 1000 listed in Adelaide last month, says a report released today.

The Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot 2022 found household groups relying on government assistance were doing it even tougher with most not able to afford any of the rentals on offer. This includes single pensioners.

Believe Housing Australia Head of Housing Operations Stacey Northover said: “This year’s report is a serious wakeup call for governments that without meaningful intervention, rental affordability will keep declining.”

Believe Housing Australia Head of Housing Operations Stacey Northover

The Snapshot surveyed 1125 rental listings for Greater Adelaide on on the March 19 weekend to find:

  • ZERO rentals were affordable and appropriate for single Aged Pensioners, Disability Support Pensioners, and singles receiving current Parenting Payments, Jobseeker, and the Youth Allowance
  • TWO rentals (0%) were affordable and appropriate for a single person on a minimum wage
  • FOUR rentals (0%) were affordable and appropriate for couples with two children on Jobseeker
  • FOUR rentals (0%) were affordable and appropriate for couples on the Age Pension
  • SIXTEEN rentals (1%) were affordable and appropriate for single parents with two children on a minimum wage (with Family Tax Benefit A and B)

The first Snapshot with SA data in 2013 showed there were 518 Adelaide private rentals considered affordable for a minimum-wage-earning couple with two children (with Family Tax Benefit A and B). This compares to 283 last month.

The Snapshot found Four rentals from more than 1000 were affordable and appropriate for couples on the Age Pension

“We urgently need to confront the disturbing reality of what this means: literally tens of thousands of South Australians – including children – are becoming more vulnerable to housing stress and homelessness and that number is likely to increase,” said Ms Northover.

“Investing in more social and community housing and a permanent increase to income support payments is the most powerful way to make the market more affordable and ensure South Australians do not have to choose between rent and food to keep a roof over their heads.”

Believe Housing Australia last month announced it would invest more than $100M in social and affordable housing in SA over the next 10 years to help address thedire shortage of 40,400 affordable homes needed to keep up with projected demand over the next 14 years.*

* Most recent data from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

About the Rental Affordability Snapshot: The survey uses government rates for benefit payments and the minimum wage to calculate income for 14 different low-income households. An “affordable property” is one where the rent does not exceed 30 per cent of a household’s budget. Research shows rent higher than this means financial stress. An “appropriate property” is one that suits the needs of the tenant (e.g., three-bedroom home for a family of four or more).

About Believe Housing Australia: Believe Housing Australia is a nationally accredited Tier 1 community housing provider that owns or manages more than 2,100 social and affordable homes in SA. Safe and secure housing and tenancy services are provided to people on low incomes, those who have experienced homelessness, First Nations people, people with a disability, and survivors of domestic violence. Believe Housing Australia is part of the AnglicareSA family, which means tenants have access to a wide range of support services. Formerly known as AnglicareSA Housing, Believe Housing Australia remains a fully owned subsidiary company of AnglicareSA.

Case studies

AnglicareSA and Believe Housing Australia has been granted permission to publish these stories. Names have been changed at the request of individuals to protect the identity of their children.

Leanne from Adelaide’s northern suburbs: single mum of two

Leanne is a single parent with sole care of two young children.

She spent five months late last year searching for a home across Adelaide after the rental lease of her home for two years expired and was not renewed. Based on the single parenting allowance, Leanne can spend about $400 a week on rent.

“I can’t tell you how many houses I looked at,” says Leanne. “I couldn’t find anything we could afford – absolutely nothing, or, if it was affordable, it was not fit for children.

“It’s been a very stressful and difficult time.”

Leanne and her children are now renting a three-bedroom home below market rates that is managed by Believe Housing Australia in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

“We are very lucky – it’s all worked out for me and the kids,” says Leanne. “We do have a happy ending but there are so many more people out there waiting.”

Anne from the Adelaide Hills: disability pensioner

Anne has been looking for a suitable rental property for the past six months after the home she was renting was sold for a record price last year.

Anne has been living at Anne’s brother’s rental home since January 2022. His home also is due to be sold by its owners later this year.

“It’s unprecedented and I’m scared of having nowhere to live,” she says.

The $350 a week Anne can afford to spend on rent, based on her disability income, has not been enough to secure the two-bedroom home she’s been searching for. She’s visited more than 30 private rental properties.

“I’ve looked for everything and I’ve applied for everything,” says Anne.

“I mean, yes, rent has gone up – but there’s also just not enough houses full stop. The gap has gotten wider pretty quickly, and I’ve got money for a bond and just that’s not enough.”

Andy from Adelaide’s northern suburbs: single pensioner

Disability pensioner Andy was forced to couch surf with friends after a long-term relationship ended, leaving him without a home.

The 66-year-old grandfather says he has rented a home all his life without a problem until COVID arrived.

“There is nowhere to go for people doing it tough,” says Andy. “You just can’t afford to rent anymore.”

Poor health – from triple bypass surgery and work-related disabilities – meant finding a place to rent for less than $350 a week was “impossible”.

Andy spent five months searching for a home in mid-2020.

He says rising rent, not enough housing stock, and record property prices were to blame.

Andy was finally able to secure a one-bedroom unit, rented at below market rates, through social housing provider Believe Housing Australia.

He’s currently sharing his unit with his 24-year-old daughter who can’t afford to rent on her own.