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Oct 19, 2011

Rents push households to crisis point

Today we had the Victorian launch of the campaign where we revealed that high housing costs are pushing households to seek emergency relief services for the provision of basics like food parcels and bill payments.

Research by Community Information Victoria (CIVic) reveals that Emergency Relief agencies are seeing up to 600 households needing assistance with housing, and over 50 per cent of their clients cite housing costs as the reason they seek help.

CIVic is the peak body for community information and support services and collectively, its members are the third highest funded emergency service in the state.

Victorian Emergency Relief services are saying:

  • 80 per cent of clients accessing their services were paying 50-60 per cent of their income on rent, leaving very little for bills and food.
  • Emergency Relief services are seeing households pushed into crisis, week after week by their rent.
  • Older persons are now calling on ER services more.

When 50 to 60 per cent of your income is being spent on housing costs, there is very little left over. Not only do we need to increase the supply of low cost rental housing, we need to make sure people in the private rental market aren’t pushed into poverty.

There are some shocking stories from services who help people in housing stress every day:

Services told of an older man who was unable to put his wife into care because their shared income was needed to pay for the rent, which was 50% of that shared income. If he put his wife into care, he would be left on a single pension and unable to afford food after paying rent, so the couple had to defer her access to that care in order to make ends meet.

Another ER service worker revealed:

“A woman with two school age children paying $1200 per month approached us for Emergency Relief as she had kept children out of school on this day because she had nothing for them to take for lunch and they had had no breakfast”

The problem of housing stress is at crisis point for low and middle income families, and unless we act to improve housing affordability for everyone, people will continue to struggle to afford to pay for the basics.

To download the full media release click here


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