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Experts warn of a national housing crisis because the cost of renting in Australia’s regional centres has increased by almost 20% in the past two years.
UNSW Sydney and Australian Council of Social Service released a new report showing that regional rents have increased 18% since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, wages over the same time have only increased 6 percent.
These findings are similar with those in the UK and US where rent inflation reached unprecedented levels since 2008’s Global Financial Crisis.
Dr Cassandra Goldie is CEO of ACOSS. She stated that rent increases will be borne only by residents with low incomes in the region. These increases cannot be covered by CPI-linked benefits.
Dr Goldie explained to us that “private rentals are already in shortage after the recent devastating floods” and that there is a severe shortage for social housing options. This is why many areas of regional Australia are experiencing a rent crisis.
“In flood-affected areas, it is evident that the rental market cannot house families with low or moderate incomes who are temporarily homeless. The real concern is that this becomes permanent.”
Dr Goldie stated, “A greater supply of social housing within regional centers, especially those most impacted by natural disasters like flooding, is crucial for lower asking rents.”
Dr Goldie said, “We need urgent Federal Government action to house flood-affected people.”
Floods and COVID are only two ways to exacerbate a national housing crisis that has been increasing for many years. After a decade of neglect in social housing, we urgently need a national program to address this problem. The most vulnerable regions will receive the majority of the investment.
The report COVID 19: Housing market impacts and housing policy responses – an international review compared the experiences of Australia and seven other case study countries – Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the US.
It was discovered that even though many countries took great measures to protect their homes and maintain their incomes, almost all of them experienced an increase in rents after the government intervened.
Professor Hal Pawson was the author. He stated that Australia could have been saved if it had implemented its economic and social policies during the pandemic.
Professor Pawson explained how Australia’s pandemic-triggered emergency Income Protection and Housing Policy Measures went beyond what anyone could have imagined.
“We saw a glimpse of cities where street homelessness was reduced significantly and a rental market in which evictions had been drastically cut.
“But, as the experience has not prompted practically no permanent reforms to social safety or rental property regulation regulations, governments seem to have resisted an opportunity to learn from it.”
Emma Greenhalgh (CEO National Shelter), a low income housing charity, stated that the current housing crisis has been ongoing since years.
Ms. Greenhalgh explained how the report shows missed opportunities over two years to capitalize upon the initial positive government responses to homelessness and housing during COVID. She suggested that social and affordable housing could help to create a housing legacy from the pandemic.
“We now face a national crisis in housing that has been long in coming. Climate disasters and COVID add to this problem. The Federal Government is not responding to this crisis with urgency.
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“It is vital to create a national strategy for housing in order to address this crisis.”