PM urged to consider housing for poorest on budget night

THE community sector has called on the Abbott government not to leave Australia's poorest out in the cold on budget night, with a new housing report showing rental affordability at "virtually zero".

And Anglicare Australian chief executive Kasy Chambers said the 2014 Rental Affordability Snapshot showed things were not better in regional areas than the city.

The report has highlighted claims of government policies failing to help Australia's lowest income earners - including those reliant on Newstart and aged pension - to find affordable housing.

It found single people living on the minimum wage in regional Australia had just 3.9% of the property to choose from, while less than 2% of rental properties were affordable for those on government payments.

"Regional Areas are too expensive for individuals living on a government payment," the report reads.

"A couple with two children on the minimum wage would have access to around one in five regional rental properties.

"The same family composition receiving Newstart would have access to only 1.2% of regional properties and age pensioner couples would find 6.4% of rental suitable."

Ms Chambers said while some regional areas were doing better than others, the central Queensland market was still coming off high rents from the mining boom, and low income earners struggled to find a home.

And she said despite a lack of a boom on the New South Wales' north coast, the "pocket of disadvantage" across that region showed entrenched unemployment was affected rental affordability for many.

"The lack of affordable housing impacts on the lives of everyday people, and with over five million supported by the safety net, it's a lot of lives dramatically shaped every day by this immediate and critical issue," she said.

"Limited supply does more than just drive up the price of housing. It forces those on lower incomes to spend more on rent than they can afford; compels them to forgo food and other necessities; and drives them further away from social and economic participation."

The report based "housing affordability" on rental costs that took up less than 30% of a household's income, or a third of a family's fortnightly pay check.

Ms Chambers said while she knew the government was struggling to find savings in the budget, the nation's poorest should not be the first place to look.

She called on the government for a "national solution to what is now a national crisis"; urging politicians to help find new ways of ensuring affordable housing stock could come on the market.



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