MEDIA RELEASE: Half a million Australian women living in rent stress, new data shows

Calls for national housing strategy for women

More Australian women are living in rent stress than men, new ABS data shows, with the disparity blamed on a combination of lower female incomes, the effects of fleeing family violence and single mothers paying higher rents to accommodate their children.

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that 462,436 women in Australia are defined as being both on a low income, as well as paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. This compares to 423,764 Australian men living in rent stress.

The startling statistics have driven the Everybody’s Home campaign to join with the National Foundation for Australian Women to call on the Commonwealth Government to develop a housing strategy for women, which takes affirmative action to rebalance the scales for women struggling in the housing market.

‘Housing and homelessness are deeply gendered issues and it’s critical that our policy responses reflect that,’ said Kate Colvin, Everybody’s Home campaign spokesperson.

‘Women earn 67 per cent of the income of men, they have less super and savings, are more likely to flee their home due to family violence and they make up two-thirds of our homelessness clients.’

‘We can start to rebalance the scales with a housing strategy that ensures there’s enough social housing dedicated for women, that women’s housing has enough room for their children, that women are not forced into rooming houses where they’re at greater risk of violence, and that single mums with small children have well-located housing near child care, maternal and child health nurses, transport, and schools,’ said Ms Colvin.

‘It’s time governments lift the veil of ignorance to see that women and girls are suffering in our broken housing system, and homelessness among females is rising as a result’ said Ms Colvin.

In a housing statement released to coincide with International Women’s Day, Everybody’s Home said that a gender-responsive national housing and homelessness strategy would ensure:

  • the 500,000 social and affordable rental homes developed are affordable to women currently struggling in the private market, and meet other needs disproportionately experienced by women, including providing housing that is safe, close to services and community, and which is universally accessible.
  • social and affordable rental homes are delivered in the locations women need them, including in remote Indigenous communities.
  • tenancy reforms include protections for women experiencing domestic and family violence, and the capacity to make minor modifications to meet needs relating to disability or to caring responsibilities
  • reforms to Commonwealth Rent Assistance improve affordability for women across their life course
  • a national plan to end homelessness includes:
    • resources to prevent and effectively respond to domestic and family violence
    • measures to increase the security and adequacy of social security payments
    • safe options for crisis and temporary accommodation for women and children, and pathways out of homelessness for women experiencing domestic and family violence who are on temporary visas

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