SBS World News Radio: Buying is hard but spare a thought for renters
The affordability of rental properties, for some of the nation's poorest, has hit an all time low.
That's the finding of the latest snapshot from Anglicare, with the charity calling for urgent action in the upcoming budget.
26-year-old Adam Owens shares with three others in a public housing flat in Canberra.
But the rental squeeze is still tight, and occasionally forces him to forego his asthma medication.
"Do I starve that day, or do I breathe that day ? I'm only just managing to get by, just barely. And it's not easy because this place used to supply their residents with fridges, they don't anymore."
His experience of going without is replicated by many others, including Rachel.
She's in a two-parent family in Canberra with two kids aged 11 and 14, and says not much is left over after the rent is paid on their three-bedroom house.
"Our rent is probably 45 per cent of my income - this year we're all going to be wearing onsies at home so we don't have to put the heater on. that's how close we are."
The severity of the problem is outlined in the eighth Anglicare rental affordability snapshot, based on more than 67 thousand properties surveyed in the first weekend of April.
Kasey Chambers is the charity's CEO.
"What we found was dire. If you're on a low income, if you're on a government benefit, in you're on minumum wage in australia you will find it very hard to find an affordable dwelling in the private rental market."
Only 1.62 per cent of properties were deemed affordable for single people on the aged pension
0.86 per cent were cheap enough for a single person on the Disability Support Pension.
For a single parent on newstart, it was just 0.35 per cent.
And for a single person on youth allowance - just 0.004 per cent were affordable.
Kasey Chambers from Anglicare Australia says people doing important jobs in the community are suffering.
"Wages are not keeping up with rent, it's simple mathematics. It's a very bad situation when people who are on the minimum wage people who have steered the traffic here this morning, made your coffee, anyone who's come through the airport, they're your security guards - they are the bread and butter of the society and that's no longer a living wage."
Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service called the findings disturbing, but not surprising.
"The reality is that we do not have enough employment opportunities and at any point in time there will be a range of reasons why people will be needing to access social housing - because the open market is not affordable today and it's certainly not going to be affordable tomorrow."
Sydney is ranked the worst for affordability with the number of properties suitable for households on social security benefits halving since this time last year.
But regional areas are not immune either, with only five percent properties affordable for people on an aged pension
To reverse the rental pain, Anglicare has a budget wishlist, including increasing funding for community housing and winding back negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions.
CEO Kasey Chambers says it's going to take a big effort across many sectors.
"We're saying this is everyone's problem... it's going to take federal government, it's going to take state government, it's going to take local government, it's going to take private investors, it's going to take industry to actually solve this problem." (08) But we do need the federal government to actually be taking leadership on that - and it needs to be a long-term plan - piecemeal and nibblings around the edge, aren't going to work... we are in a crisis."
Treasurer Scott Morrison says people will have to wait until May 9 to find out what measures the budgetary government has decided on.
"Our announcements will be in the budget when it comes to all of these issues but the debate that has been held around housing has often forgotten and neflected the people that you're referrring to. People who rent on low incomes, they are always very close to my mind when I think about these issues."
Labor leader, Bill Shorten, has outlined the key ways the opposition would tackle the issue.
"Labor's got a series of plans, from reviewing the newstart allowance, through to improving supply, through to getting a better deal for renters and people in public housing.We understand that the best thing we can do in this society as a government is make sure that people have a good job and also that they have secure accommodation."