Meeting housing needs: media releases

For media enquiries, please contact our chairperson, Adrian Pisarski, on on 0417 975 270 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

Australians falling into poverty as rents chew up incomes

June 16 2016: The second release of Australia’s first ever Rental Affordability Index (RAI) reveals the lowest-income households in Australia are paying up to 85 per cent of their income on rent, while rental unaffordability is extending to professionals. 

The data has reinforced calls for policy reform to address rental and housing affordability. The Index has been created by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics & Planning. It includes data from the September and December 2015 quarters as well as historical data dating back to 1996. Data was not available for Victoria. 

Under current market conditions, the RAI reveals low-income households typically need to pay 50 to 85 per cent of their income on rent. It is generally accepted that a household is in housing stress if it pays more than 30 per cent of its income on rent. 

Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter, said the latest index highlights many rental households are falling into poverty and are being pushed to suburban fringes due to high rents. 

"Australia’s lowest income households – those on around $500 a week – are paying up to 85 per cent of their income on rents. Middle-income households are also falling into housing stress as high rents chew up incomes that aren’t keeping pace with rising housing costs. It is clear that rental unaffordability is dividing Australia,” Pisarski said. 

“Low and moderate income households are being forced out of inner-city areas into fringe suburbs where there are fewer jobs, less infrastructure such as transport, and fewer opportunities, which is only entrenching their disadvantage. Essential service workers like teachers, nurses and police are also being affected, potentially leaving service gaps in the suburbs they’re being priced out of." 

Ellen Witte, an Associate at SGS Economics & Planning, said rental unaffordability had started to intensify from the early 2000s in Queensland and New South Wales. “This coincided with the 50 per cent reduction in the capital gains tax in 1999 and the fact that for the first time in decades, new housing stock was falling behind demand. This resulted in a surge of investment in housing, driving up prices, and pushing out first home buyers, forcing them to rent.” 

Economist Saul Eslake noted that in 1991-92, first-home buyers each accounted for about 17 per cent of total housing market, with the remainder going to ‘repeat buyers’. “By the current financial year, however, the share of total housing lending going to first-time buyers is just 11 per cent, while the share going to investors rising to 46 per cent,”Eslake said. 

“So would-be home-buyers have been squeezed out of the housing market by investors who have, in effect, converted dwellings that might otherwise have been acquired by home-owners into rental dwellings which those would-be home-buyers have been obliged instead to rent – a perverse example of ‘supply creating its own demand,” he said. 

SGS Economics’s Witte said the percentage of households renting has grown to 35 per cent across Australia, with many struggling to make ends meet and cover other essential living costs like transport, food and utility expenses. “Single income households are the worst off and the trend over the last five years has mostly seen no improvement, except in Perth, where the mining downturn is likely to have taken the heat out of rents,” she said. 

“Historical trends between 1996 and 2011 show that rental affordability has deteriorated dramatically across all of NSW and Queensland since the early 2000s. The decline in rental affordability is expected to follow similar trends in other states,” she said. 

“Long-term trends in most cities present a pessimistic outlook for rental affordability. More young Australians are being squeezed out of the owner-occupier property market due to high housing costs, and this is driving up demand and prices for rental accommodation, exacerbating the rental accommodation shortage,” Witte explained. 

Andrew Cairns, Chief Executive Officer of Community Sector Banking, which helped fund the report, said the nation had to wake up to the rental crisis. 

“There is a dire need for innovative financial models to support more affordable housing and we’re calling on governments, companies and philanthropists to collectively use their power to create sustainable solutions now,” he said. 

“$10 billion in funding would deliver 30,000-40,000 more homes and go some way to addressing this crisis,” he said. 

National Shelter's Pisarski said governments should be taking concrete steps to alleviate the rental crisis, including creating a national strategy that uses all available tools such as tax reform, government investment and state and local government resources. 

“We need a national strategy to address the deterioration of rental stress but what we are getting is the opposite. Government cuts over the past five years, including cuts to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), have only contributed to the current rental crisis,” he said. 

“We need concrete action from all governments in partnership with the community sector to alleviate this rental affordability problem,” Pisarski said. 

Media contact 

Nicki Bourlioufas: 0411 786 933 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

For data enquiries, please call Ellen Witte, SGS Economics and Planning, 0421 372 940, 02 8307 0121 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

City-by-City Breakdown 

Under the capital city data that low income households continue to experience severe unaffordability: 

Sydney 

 Greater Sydney is the least affordable metropolitan area in Australia in recent years, with a RAI of 109 in the last two quarters of 2015. 

 However, affordability levels have stabilised in Sydney in recent years. 

 Near the city centre, there has been no relief for the average household in meeting housing costs, though some areas in the west have experienced slight improvements in affordability. 

 

Brisbane 

 With a RAI of 116, rental affordability in Greater Brisbane has decreased over the past two years; it is the only city to have recorded such a trend of the metro areas studied. 

 This is due to a declining income growth rate in Brisbane. Over the past two years, household income has declined by 0.2 per cent, while rents have increased overall by 2.5 per cent. Median household rents have fluctuated between $390 and $406 per week. 

 Some areas in the inner city, south of the Brisbane River (i.e. West End, South Brisbane and East Brisbane) have experienced improvements in rental affordability, probably as a result of localised growth in apartment supply. 

 

Perth 

 Greater Perth has a RAI of 126, meaning rents are acceptable. With a score of 108 (moderately unaffordable) in December 2013, affordability has increased significantly over the past two years. 

 The increase in affordability has been more significant in regional WA compared to the metro area, away from moderately unaffordable rents to acceptable rents, possibly in part due to the mining downturn. 

 

Adelaide 

 Greater Adelaide has a RAI of 117, meaning rents are moderately unaffordable. There has been a moderately positive trend in rental affordability over the last two years. Since the November 2015 release, the RAI score has risen by 3 points. 

 This is a result of household incomes rising faster than rents in recent years. Over the past three years, household income rose 7.5 per cent while rents rose 1.7 per cent. 

 Some areas in the south of Adelaide have become less affordable, while some areas in the north have become more affordable since the last release. 

 

Hobart 

 Greater Hobart has a RAI of 111, meaning the city remains moderately unaffordable. After Sydney, Greater Hobart is the least affordable city, due to relatively lower incomes and high rental yields. 

 Unaffordability has increased slightly, as the RAI score dropped by 1 point. 

 Pockets at the fringes of Greater Hobart have become more affordable. 

 

About the Rental Affordability Index 

The Rental Affordability Index (RAI) has been created by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics & Planning, which undertook the research. The report gives an account of rental affordability in Australia's capital cities. The higher the number of the RAI, the greater the affordability. The June 2016 RAI provides an update of the November 2015 RAI report by providing analysis of data from the two most recent available quarters, September and December 2015. The RAI does not include updated findings for Victoria due to lack of rental bond data available to undertake the required analysis. The report includes findings from analysis of historical data from Queensland and New South Wales, which was not included in November report. 

About National Shelter 

National Shelter is a peak advocacy group whose mission is to create a "more just housing system, particularly for low-income Australian households." 

About SGS Economics & Planning 

SGS is a leading planning and economics firm whose purpose is to shape policy and investment decisions to achieve sustainable places, communities and economies. 

About Community Sector Banking 

Community Sector Banking is the not-for-profit banking specialist for more than 10,000 organisations; it’s a joint venture between Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and a consortium of not-for-profit organisations including Jobs Australia, Oxfam Australia, Scope and ACOSS.

 

 

Voices of housing stressed converge on Canberra for National Day of Action

Released Monday 23 March 2014 

Housing and homelessness organisations will converge on Canberra for National Shelter’s National Day of Action on Tuesday 24 March 2015 calling on the Federal Government to live up to its responsibilities to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable housing.  

 

Read more: Voices of housing stressed converge on Canberra for National Day of Action

Peaks essential to consultation processes

 

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Joint statement from National Shelter, Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia

Embargoed until 9am Wednesday 11 February 2015.

Australia’s housing and homelessness peaks have called on the Abbott Government to make good on their promise to be more consultative by restoring funding to the peak bodies who provide a voice for vulnerable Australians.

The housing and homelessness peaks Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter were told just before Christmas that they would not be funded past 30 June 2015.   Their defunding was the result of the government stripping away $21 million in housing and homelessness funding, which will have a detrimental impact on research, innovation and effectiveness and efficiency of long term service provision in the housing field.

The Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter today [Wed 11 Feb] appeared before the Senate Economics Committee to stress the importance of peak bodies in consultative processes.

Adrian Pisarski from National Shelter said that the Government’s announcement on the eve of Christmas 2014 that it was cutting funding from the housing and homelessness peaks was reflective of a government unwilling to listen to input.

“Since all of this talk of a spill the Government has stressed that it will be more consultative.  Good consultation needs to be an ongoing process, and not just something you say you'll do after there is a backlash,” Mr Pisarski said. 

“Organisations like CHFA, Homelessness Australia and National Shelter provide the government with considered, evidence-based advice on policy which reflects a range of perspectives, including that of low income and other vulnerable people.

Glenda Stevens, CEO of Homelessness Australia said that without strong national peak bodies, government decision makers will be free to ignore housing and homelessness, leaving one of the biggest welfare issues: whether families can get and keep a home, out in the cold.

“Far too many Australians are homeless, and many thousands more are in housing stress and at risk of becoming homeless.   It is wrong for Government to try to silence the peaks who speak on behalf of vulnerable Australians,” Ms Stevens said. 

Carol Croce, Executive Director of CHFA, highlighted the peaks concerns that the pre-Christmas cuts flagged a retreat by the Commonwealth from responsibility for housing and homelessness.

“The phrase ‘housing crisis’ now appears frequently in headlines.  But there are hints in the Federalism review that the Commonwealth may try to walk away from its responsibilities to build a better housing system,” Ms Croce said.

 "More than ever the community housing sector needs to be working collaboratively with Government towards a viable solution to the lack of affordable housing.  Diminishing the resources of constructive stakeholders such as the housing peaks is a retrograde step that runs counter to the Government’s support for an active, robust civil society to work with them to solve the most pressing social issues facing Australia” .

ENDS

 

For further comment:

 

CHFA: Carol Croce 0402 017 557

Homelessness Australia: Glenda Stevens 0405 900 360

National Shelter: Adrian Pisarski 0417 975 270

 

JOINT STATEMENT FROM National Shelter, Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Housing and homelessness peak bodies out in the cold at Christmas: and a very poor new year to follow for anyone struggling to house themselves

It’s not going to be a good Christmas for housing and homelessness peak bodies including the Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter.

All three of these peak bodies received news at the beginning of this Christmas week that they would not be funded beyond 30 June 2015. 

But this news is a blow beyond undermining Christmas festivities for the people directly involved in these organisations. 

These organisations provided a voice in Canberra for the challenges faced in securing affordable housing and keeping a roof over the heads of our most vulnerable citizens.

Without strong national peak bodies, government decision makers will be free to ignore housing and homelessness, leaving one of the biggest welfare issues: whether families can get and keep a home, out in the cold.

Alarmingly, with a federation green paper underway that will look specifically at housing and homelessness issues, there may be no peak bodies at the national level with the research and policy expertise in these areas.

It’s a sad day for civil society when governments move to silence anyone who may offer an opinion that differs from theirs.

Peaks play an essential role as a voice for vulnerable people and in taking a broad view of the housing and homelessness system to promote fairness, effectiveness and efficiency. 

Governments are impoverished without the evidence based policy knowledge of peaks and their capacity to provide advice and a voice from the community - this is an attack on civil society, and the long term costs will be worn by our most vulnerable citizens.

Community Housing Federation of Australia

The Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), the national industry body representing not-for-profit housing providers.  

" For nearly 20 years CHFA has provided advice to both Liberal and Labor Governments, as well as conducting research and policy development aimed at improving housing outcomes for low-income and vulnerable Australians," said John McInerney, CHFA's Chairperson.  "We are profoundly disappointed by this short-sighted decision.”

Carol Croce, CHFA’s Executive Director said, "I am surprised by this decision, as it is at odds with the constructive relationship CHFA has enjoyed with successive  governments .  CHFA has been a successful and respected peak body and an efficient, effective  conduit for information to the community housing sector for Government policy, and an avenue for genuine dialogue on housing concerns between the community housing sector and Government."

 "More than ever the sector needs to be working collaboratively with Government towards a viable solution to the lack of affordable housing.  Diminishing the resources of a prominent stakeholder such as CHFA will be detrimental to this process,” Ms Croce said.

“The work of each of our housing and homelessness peaks is essential if people are to have a roof over their heads.”

Homelessness Australia

Homelessness Australia represents hundreds of specialist homelessness services: hardworking organisations and people who are the nation’s safety net.

“We are deeply disappointed that the government has turned its back on the country’s most vulnerable people,” Glenda Stevens, CEO of HA said. 

“Housing affordability is driving more people to homelessness than ever before.  The government can’t talk about caring for families without addressing this issue.

“The work of each of our housing and homelessness peaks is essential if people are to have a roof over their heads.”

National Shelter

National Shelter is Australia’s housing policy peak, advocating for a fairer, more just housing system, particularly for low-income Australian households. We aim to make housing in all the tenure forms, including private rental, home ownership and social housing more accessible, affordable, appropriate, safe and secure for everyone.

National Shelter Chairperson Mary Perkins said National Shelter is a policy peak which focuses  at the systems level.  

“We take care to work constructively with government, the private and community sectors to build a better housing system for everyone.

“National Shelter brings to the table the collective experience and knowledge of state and territory based housing policy peaks, and our National Members CHFA and Homelessness Australia.

“We’re shocked and disappointed that the Federal Government would try to exclude us and the voice of vulnerable people from the conversation about housing policy.   

“The work of each of our housing and homelessness peaks is essential if people are to have a roof over their heads.”

 

ENDS

 

For further comment

CHFA: Carol Croce 0402 017 557 or John McInerney 0439 447 110

Homelessness Australia: Glenda Stevens 0405 900 360

National Shelter: Mary Perkins 0419 919 091 or Adrian Pisarski 0417 975 270

 

 

All National Shelter wants for Christmas is a robust civil society: instead there are funding cuts

 

23 December, 2014

As Scott Morrison takes the baton on the Social Services ministry, the Commonwealth has flagged a move away from funding housing and homelessness. 

In his last act at DSS Minister Andrews axed funding from research and peak bodies in the area.

On the eve of Christmas the Federal Government has tried to silence the voices of the vulnerable by reneging on contracts with peak bodies including National Shelter, the Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia.

National Shelter Executive Officer, Adrian Pisarski described the cuts as callous, “Joe Hockey has announced the budget will be used as a shock absorber. It seems the government delivers the shock and on behalf of the poor and vulnerable we absorb it.” 

National Shelter points out that whilst the move may save the budget $5m per annum it will cost the homeless and marginally housed their ability to be counted and heard in future negotiations.

“It looks to me like the start of a Commonwealth backsliding out of housing and homelessness” Mr Pisarski said, “Who will now point out how bad things are or dare challenge Ministers or the advice of officials, or rather why will they listen?” he added.

“Peak bodies play an essential role in civil society, speaking up for marginalised people and bringing a broad view of the system to promote fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.  

“Governments are impoverished without the evidence based policy knowledge of peaks and their capacity to provide advice and a voice from the community - this is an attack on civil society, and the long term costs will be worn by our most vulnerable citizens.”

In his time with National Shelter Mr Pisarski has provided advice to 10 Commonwealth Ministers including Minister Andrews and most have been appreciative of the advice and services offered.

“This government has articulated no plan but to await the outcome of an ever increasing number of processes (Federalism, Taxation, Welfare,) while homelessness increases dramatically and our housing supply fails the poor.

“Its easy to defund peaks who don’t deliver a direct service but the advice we provide would save governments from having to fund many services in the future so we must conclude it is a cynical political exercise to silence us before they announce their real intentions.” 

 

ENDS 

Further comment: 

 

Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter Executive Officer  mob. 0417 975 270 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     

 

Mary Perkins, National Shelter Chairperson, mob. 0419 919 091.

 

Page 1 of 3

Translate

English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish
Built by Energetica