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Families crushed by rent stress

By Elyse Perrau
09 October 2014 | 1 minute read

One in three vulnerable households in Victoria’s outer suburban electorates is in rental stress, leading community groups to rally for an urgent housing stock increase.

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The Council to Homeless Persons has highlighted recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing suburbs Broadmeadows, Thomastown, Dandenong, St Albans, Frankston and Melton are amongst the top 10 worst electorates for rental stress.

“The data shows that one in three renters in outer suburban electorates are in housing stress, on a low income  $640 per week or less – and paying more than 30 per cent of their wage on rent.

An affordable housing forum has recently been held, where housing experts, academics and former public housing tenants discussed how Victoria’s lack of affordable housing has created a crisis situation for low-income families.

Council to Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith said if you are earning $640 or less a week, and paying a third of that on rent, you are in “dire straits”.

“Yet this is the case for 120,000 households across Victoria,” she said.

“People on low incomes move further out to find cheap rent, but find that they’re still paying more than they can afford and are left with only a few dollars for groceries and bills.

“It’s a diabolical situation, causing stress, anxiety and contributing to family breakdown,” she added.

Seven peak bodies, including the Victorian Council of Social Services, Domestic Violence Victoria and Tenants’ Union of Victoria, are calling on the state government to increase Victoria’s social housing stock to the national average of five per cent by 2020 (it currently sits at 3.4 per cent) to ease the stress for low-income families.

“Low-income households are being slowly crushed by the weight of rent, but they have few alternatives with an 11-month wait for public housing, and tens of thousands of people in line for social housing,” Ms Smith said. 

Families crushed by rent stress
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