Anglicare Australia’s annual snapshot of rental affordability reveals scant accommodation along the North Coast for people on minimum wages.
Research in early April found Ballina, Byron Bay, Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads are inaccessible to households on income support.
Casino, the Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour and Kempsey had some affordable properties.
Single people had the worst access to housing and young people on Newstart and Youth Allowance could not afford any housing in the region’s private rental market.
Anglicare North Coast said the Pacific Highway upgrade may have pushed rents up as more people came to the region.
It said governments needed to urgently look at ways to increase the North Coast’s supply of affordable and appropriate housing, and tax reforms to reduce rental prices.
Almost No Affordable Rental Properties for Poorer People
Anglicare North Coast said in the first weekend of April it surveyed more than 750 properties between Port Macquarie and Tweed Heads.
Acting CEO Jim Hodge said almost none were affordable or appropriate for young people on Newstart, Youth Allowance or other income support.
“Roughly we had about 52 properties that were deemed affordable for people living on income support and about 219 for people that were living on the minimum wage,” Mr Hodge said.
“So it doesn’t look very good.
“But when you break it down even further, say into Port Macquarie there was just one property available for a couple on the Aged Pension.
“Otherwise there was nothing for people on income support at all.”
The Aged Pension is currently around $860 per fortnight for a couple.
Weekly rents in areas like Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie are typically more than $300 per week.
Mr Hodge said on the day of the snapshot there were 33 properties in Port Macquarie available for people on minimum wages.
“But that was mainly for probably couples with children, with a slightly higher income,” he said.
“In Kempsey there were about 10 properties for people on income support.
“But there was nothing available for single people or single parents with one child in those areas.”
Mr Hodge said the lack of affordable housing was having a big impact on low income earners trying to survive on the North Coast.
“We’ve certainly seen an increase in the amount of people coming in for emergency relief services, for food vouchers, those sorts of things,” he said.
“I guess they have to choose whether they can actually pay the rent or pay for their food, to have a meal on the table.
“I think it’s pretty sad to get down to that in Australia, when we are so wealthy.”