The Snapshot, taken each year in March, captures the number of affordable and suitable homes available for Australians on low incomes.
In Western Australia, it found only 3,695 available private rentals in the Perth Metro, South West, Great Southern and North-West regions, indicating availability had halved since the 2020 Snapshot, while median rents had increased by as much as 17 percent, and are expected to rise further.
Housing is considered affordable when it costs less than 30 percent of a household’s income.
Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said more Western Australians are going without basic necessities just to keep a roof over their head.
“Shelter is essential for people to live and prosper, and for children to grow into strong adults, yet in a state as wealthy as WA, with a budget surplus exceeding $3 billion, housing has become unaffordable for so many,” said Mr Glasson.
“Last month, more than 900 people sought help through the Emergency Relief and Food Access Support Service to feed their families or pay their bills. People are foregoing prescription medicine to stay in their home.
“This year’s Snapshot is the clearest indication yet that the state is returning to a two-speed economy, with a growing divide between the haves and have-nots.”
The 2021 Snapshot found zero affordable rentals in WA for young people receiving the Youth Allowance. The only affordable accommodation for the thousands of JobSeeker recipients was one room in one share house in the whole of Perth. Families are forced into overcrowding.
“The tiny increase to JobSeeker in March made little difference for recipients facing rent rises of 17 percent and more.
Mr Glasson said immediate action was required to prevent a state-wide surge in homelessness.
“Once families lose housing, it becomes harder to maintain their employment, relationships and health.
“As a matter of urgency, the State Government must expand eligibility for its Residential Rent Relief Grants Scheme or initiate a similar form of emergency rent relief for more low-income households.
“The WA Residential Tenancies Act must be updated to end evictions without cause, stop excessive rent increases, extend legal protections to boarders and lodgers, and provide quick and fair dispute resolution.
“The housing crisis we find ourselves in today was not created by the McGowan Government, it’s the result of policy failure and inaction by successive state and federal governments; however, it’s now this government’s responsibility to fix.”
Anglicare WA also called for the Federal Government to increase JobSeeker and other support payments above the poverty line.
We know the simplest and most effective step to increasing rental affordability is adequate income support, which we witnessed when the Coronavirus Supplement was first introduced lifting families out of poverty and making accommodation affordable.”