Few rental properties are affordable for a person on the JobSeeker dole payment, even at its higher level during the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey by social advocacy group Anglicare Australia of 77,000 rental listings across the country found just 808 properties or one per cent that a JobSeeker recipient could afford.
Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said many renters were out of work as a result of COVID-19 and the present higher rate of JobSeeker is the only thing keeping a roof over their head.
“For people on the lowest incomes, rentals are even less affordable than they were back in March,” Ms Chambers said.
She said most drops in rents since March have been at the higher end of the market, while at the same time more people are competing for cheap housing.
The analysis found the Morrison government’s planned cut to the coronavirus supplement this month that has been boosting the JobSeeker payment would reduce the number of affordable rental properties to 168.
Should the supplement be completely removed beyond December as flagged, the number of affordable properties across the nation is reduced to just 13.
Ms Chambers described it as a “ticking time bomb”.
“Rent deferrals and eviction moratoriums are ending soon and some people are in arrears for thousands of dollars,” she said.
“Many are facing cuts to JobSeeker at the same time.”
The survey also found only 625 properties are affordable for someone on the age pension, while just 192 are affordable for a person on the disability support pension.
Anglicare Australia is calling on the government to raise the rate of welfare payments for good.
“If the government goes ahead with planned cuts and if age and disability pensioners are left out, renters will be pushed deeper into poverty and homelessness,” Ms Chambers said.
She said there is also a massive shortfall in new social and affordable rentals across Australian, estimated at 500,000 properties.
“Investing in housing would be the most powerful way to tackle the rental crisis and boost our economy,” she said.