Affordable housing stock levels worse in 12 months: Samaritans report

Forced to leave home at the age of 16, Heather Dellosta was determined to carve out a better life for herself.

She planned to find her own place, graduate from high school in Maitland and study nursing at university. But with only $50 a week income from her part-time job, the private rental market was out of the question.

On the brink of homelessness, the only thing that has kept her off the streets has been subsidized student accommodation offered by the Samaritans. Two years later, she is inthe first semester of her nursing degree.

But she counts herself among the lucky ones.

“Seeing other people go through the same sort of thing and not come out as well, it was really scary,” she said.

According to a report released by the Samaritans on Thursday, affordable private rentals are virtually impossible to find in some parts of the region. The snapshot –taken on a day in April –foundthere were no affordable and appropriate properties in Newcastle for a single person on Newstart or Youth Allowance.

For a couple on Newstart with two children, there were seven available properties. If the family was on the minimum wage with family tax benefits and parenting payments, there were 12.

An affordable rent is considered to be no more than 30 per cent of a person’s weekly income.

Samaritans CEO Peter Gardiner says the situation in Newcastle is ‘grim’.

Samaritans CEO Peter Gardiner said the situation has worsened in 12 months,even asthenumber of private rentals increased.

“It really is a pretty grim picture for…vulnerable people in our community,” he said.“For young people in particular, there is a lot of couch surfing happening.Without a stable home base it’s really hard to hold down a job or even stay connected with family and friends.”

Mr Gardiner acknowledged a proposal for 30 affordable dwellings onthe former rail corridor would help. But hecalled on the federal government to commit to improving supply and reforming the tax system in the May budget.

“Weabsolutely need increased capacity,” he said.

Comments are closed.