The big losers from interest rates hikes aren’t just homeowners but also low-income renters who are paying more than half of their earnings just trying to keep a roof over their heads, writes Catholic Social Services Australia chair Francis Sullivan.
Across the country, rent increases are outstripping inflation by more than three percentage points. Every time the Reserve Bank jacks up rates, it is another body blow for low-income earners and people living on support payments.
Currently, some 185,000, or nearly a fifth of low-income private renters, are paying more than half of their household income in rent, according to the recently released Launch Housing’s 2018 – 2022 Homeless Monitor.
Experts accept that the most anyone should pay on rent is 30 per cent of their income; paying more puts an intolerable burden on the family budget, is unsustainable and is a pathway to homelessness.
Forking out that much weekly rent means families struggle to pay their bills and live their lives under the constant grind of trying to make ends meet.
Make no mistake, we are in the middle of a housing crisis that is only getting worse. It is an Australian-wide disaster affecting everyone from the unemployed through to double-income families.
Across Australia, we are seeing more and more families and individuals being forced out of their homes, sleeping on couches, in cars or on the streets.
Having a safe, affordable, comfortable home shouldn’t be too much to ask in 21st Century Australia. Still, for many of our fellow citizens, it is a pipe dream.
Francis Sullivan is the Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia.