When we think about homelessness it’s easy to think the pathway into it is and was the responsibility of the person experiencing it. Thus if they make a few changes to their lifestyle housing will suddenly become affordable.
This simply isn’t true. Rental insecurity is on the rise across Australia with no policy or plan from any level of government to ease the pain of rental stress. The cost of housing rises far more each year than the annual salary, and this pushes adequate housing further and further out of reach.
Currently around 200,000 Australians are on waiting lists to access social housing, and the list is growing. A large portion of the population simply cannot afford private rentals.
Homelessness can only truly be addressed if we look at the housing affordability crisis and acknowledge that rental stress is a driving force in the continuing rise of homelessness numbers right across the country. It’s a myth that homelessness is caused by bad life choices and poor decisions. The cost of rent is becoming harder to reach.
Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane all reside in the global top twenty cities in terms of unaffordable housing. Constant relocation when lease agreements end is costly in more ways than just financially.
Houses are more expensive to rent the closer proximity to the city they are, but this is where most support services are located. People with higher incomes rent the houses closer to the city thus pushing the lower income earners further out and further away from services and support systems.
Families who are constantly moving lose their support systems, children move away from friends and sporting clubs and new money must be found for changing of essential utilities and removal costs. Time off work to look for new housing and to relocate must also be taken into consideration. The stress of when the next move will be is relentless.
More needs to be done to secure the rights of the tenant to have longer leases and more rental subsidy support, and all levels of government need to take ownership and responsibility. Safe secure and adequate housing is a human right. It should never be a commodity for another person to grow wealth.
We as a country must acknowledge the driving factors of rental stress and address them before we see thousands more families tip into homelessness which is inevitable if we turn a blind eye and continue with the system the way it is now.