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Double rent assistance

By David Hale - posted Tuesday, 12 May 2020

In 2019, the charity Anglicare checked more than 69.000 properties on a weekend. Wanting to know how many of them were affordable and appropriate for people, mostly on government benefits.

How many do you think could be afforded by a single person on the JobSeeker allowance for example? 60,000, 35,000 or perhaps as low as 20,000? The answer, two. That is how many properties were affordable and appropriate, two.

Most people would agree that housing is one of the important basic needs.


The OECD notes that housing costs have skyrocketed. Whereas food, transportation, clothes and health have either stayed the same or even dropped in price, in OECD countries.

Making the argument that more must be done to address unaffordable addresses.

It is hard to fully understand given all this, why more is not done to address the issue.

The Australian Government could double Commonwealth rent assistance. It could do this virtually overnight as well.

It does not require building a single property, making changes to negative gearing and the resistance that comes from that. It does not require rent control, and the resistance that would come from that as well.

The problem is that the Commonwealth rent assistance standard amount is about $70 maximum per week, for a single person on the JobSeeker allowance.


How the government can think that is enough is hard to know.

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare noted that rent assistance reduced rental stress down from 68% to 40%. That is good, but after help, 40% of people still find themselves in rental stress. Not the best outcome for a program meant to help people afford a place to live.

What makes this all harder to accept is how affordable it would be for the government. If they decided to increase the amount of rent assistance by at least double.

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About the Author

David Hale is an Anglican University Lay Chaplain, staff worker for the Australian Student Christian Movement and a member of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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