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Rental crisis hits COVID-essential workforce across the nation

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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 aged care, disability support, childcare, hospitality and supermarkets.

The research is being launched to mark the start of national Homelessness Week.

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,” she said.

“All over the country, our caring and service workers simply can’t compete for rental properties. These are the people who are getting us through the pandemic. We must find a way to let them live close to their work.”

Everybody’s Home national spokesperson, Kate Colvin

“Yet these pandemic heroes are being badly let down by the housing system and are often priced out of the communities they serve.

Colvin said while eye-watering rents are worse in our major cities, essential workers are also increasingly priced out of coastal and bush communities.

“People with big city incomes are moving to the regions and totally warping the rental markets,” she said.

“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.

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.

Colvin said the nation simply 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,” she said.

“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.”

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