National Homelessness Week: Rental crisis hits COVID-essential workforce

News | Aug 2, 2021

COVID-essential workers in the care and services sector are facing a rental affordability crisis, with new figures showing rent on an apartment would cost at least one third of their weekly income in 87 of Australia’s 104 geographic regions.

Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness, cross-referenced SQM rent data with the basic hourly wage of workers in disability support, aged care, childcare, hospitality and supermarkets. The research is being launched to mark the start of national Homelessness Week. 

The calculation found rents were most expensive in the following nine regions, where an essential worker would need to sacrifice more than two thirds of a full working week’s income to rent an apartment:

  • NSW: Sydney CBD, Lower North Shore, Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs
  • Queensland: Gold Coast South
  • ACT: Inner South, South, Inner North, North

The analysis found a further 78 geographic regions where an essential care or service worker would need to spend between one third and two-thirds of normal working week’s wages, to rent an apartment:

  • NSW: Upper North Shore, Sutherland Shire, Inner West, Hills District, North Coast St George, Central Coast, Wollongong, Hunter, Parramatta, South Coast, Western Sydney, Canterbury Bankstown, South Western Sydney, LIverpool, Blue Mountains, Central Tablelands
  • Victoria: Bayside, Melbourne City, Bellarine Peninsula, Eastern Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, Inner East Melbourne, North West Melbourne, South East Melbourne, Melbourne North, South West Melbourne, Northern Victoria, Western Melbourne, Western Victoria, South Western Victoria, Gippsland
  • ACT: Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin, Woden Valley
  • Queensland:Gold Coast North, Gold Coast West, Gold Coast Main, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane CBD, East Brisbane, Gold Coast Hinterland, Inner Brisbane, South East Brisbane, West Brisbane, Southern Brisbane, Northern Brisbane, Cairns, Beenleigh Corridor, Queensland North Coast, Ipswich, Central Coast, Toowoomba
  • South Australia: Adelaide City, Eastern Adelaide, Western Adelaide, Southern Adelaide, Outer Adelaide, Northern Adelaide
  • WA: Northern WA, Perth City, North West Perth, South West Perth, South East Perth, North East Perth, South West WA, Goldfields Region,
  • Tasmania: Central Hobart, Launceston, East Coast, East Hobart, West Hobart, Burnie, West Coast
  • NT: Darwin

The full results can be found here.

Everybody’s Home national spokesperson, Kate Colvin, said Australia’s housing system wasn’t working for normal Australians.

“The pandemic has reminded us how critically important our carers and service workers are. Yet these pandemic heroes are being badly let down by the housing system and are often priced out of the communities they serve.

“While eye-watering rents are worst in our major cities, essential workers are increasingly priced out of  coastal and bush communities too. People with big city incomes are moving to the regions and totally warping the rental markets. It’s astonishing that a care or service worker simply could not afford a modest apartment in the overwhelming majority of our suburbs and regions.

“We must expand social and affordable housing. This will relieve the pressure on our rental market and give Australians on low and modest incomes more options. All over the country, our caring and service workers simply can’t compete for rental properties.

“These are the people who got us through the pandemic. We must find a way to let them live close to their work.

“Expecting an exhausted aged care or supermarket worker to commute 90 minutes to and from work just to afford the rent is totally unfair and unsustainable. Australia can do better.”

Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032 or Levi Joule 0481 112 074

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