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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.”

Today, Anglicare Australia released a new Rental Affordability Snapshot focussed on essential workers in full-time work. The outlook for South Australian workers is bleak, with less than seven per cent of rentals affordable to any category of full-time employed essential workers.

For those essential workers wanting to live in Adelaide’s south, west, or northern suburbs, the situation is dire, with zero to two per cent of available properties considered affordable.

The Snapshot surveyed 1,839 private rental listings across South Australia, finding that:

·               36 rentals (2%) were affordable for an aged care worker

·               55 rentals (3%) were affordable for nurses

·               29 rentals (2%) were affordable for hospitality workers

·               129 rentals (7%) were affordable for school teachers

Believe Housing Australia’s Executive General Manager, Stacey Northover, said low vacancy rates and rising rents affected everyone, and South Australians were finding themselves in housing stress and even homeless for the first time.

“We know the situation is dreadful for those on the lowest incomes, but this survey demonstrates that the housing system is also failing those on middle incomes, including those in full-time work,” she said.

“The very people who looked after us during COVID – nurses and care workers – are the ones who now can’t afford to put a roof over their heads. We must do better.

“A shortage of social and affordable housing means they are competing in the same private rental market as people on higher incomes and, as the Snapshot shows, don’t stand much of a chance of finding a secure, affordable rental that meets their needs.

“Even if people on a low or middle income are able to secure a rental, it often means making difficult choices between essential items, often going without food, heating or other basics to meet rising rents.”

The Snapshot revealed that the Adelaide Central and Hills area had the highest number of properties affordable to essential workers – 611 compared to 245 in Adelaide’s west, 311 in Adelaide’s south, and 329 in Adelaide’s north – but even then, affordability rates sat at two per cent or less.

Ms Northover said housing supply is what is needed, and the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) needs to pass through the senate to get this started.

“The HAFF may not be perfect but it’s a start, and the conversation will certainly continue until we provide enough homes for people.

“We, like many other proven housing providers, have shovel-ready projects for the release of the Housing Australia Future Fund.

“We need to make sure that properties that are built as affordable rent properties always remain for people who need it.

“Build to rent is an option often promoted but they do not stay as affordable homes in perpetuity. They are affordable for a period of time, and then the owner can sell them, and they are lost from the affordable rental market in the future.

“Community Housing Providers, like Believe Housing Australia, have the commitment to keep these as affordable properties as this is very much part of our purpose.

“We look forward to working with local, state, and federal governments to find and action solutions to end the housing crisis.

“I strongly believe everyone should have access to an affordable, safe, and secure home as a basic human right.”