5 May 2022

Finding rentals in Wagga 'complete fiction' for low income earners: Anglicare housing report

| Anna Maskus
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Rooftops in Wagga

Despite constant residential housing development expansions in Wagga, people still struggle to find somewhere they can afford to live. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Anglicare’s latest report has painted a picture of the rental crisis across Australia’s rural and regional areas.

The Regional Rental Affordability Snapshot 2022 found soaring rent prices, interest rates and housing prices that have pushed almost every person on minimum wage or income support out of the rental market in the Riverina/Murray region.

Anglicare describes their Snapshot as a “wake-up call”, the main message being that finding an affordable place to live in the private rental market is “complete fiction” for people with low incomes.

Even for those with full-time jobs, the situation is dire.

Only 9 per cent of rentals are affordable for a single person working full-time on minimum wage.

Almost 50 per cent of properties surveyed are beyond the means of families with two full-time working parents – the demographic with the best chance of securing a home.

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One of the report’s main qualms was a social housing shortage forcing low-income earners into an already strained rental market.

The Snapshot showed not a single rental (including sharehouses) in the region was suitable for a person on the JobSeeker payment. This situation is the same for those on Youth Allowance.

A family of four, where both parents are unemployed, can afford 2 per cent of rentals, while a single parent can afford nothing.

A retired couple on the Aged Pension can only afford 18 per cent of rentals, while a single retiree is restricted to 4 per cent of listings.

The Snapshot also shows that a person on the Disability Support Pension can only afford 4 per cent of rentals.

Digger at work

More housing is on the way according to Independent Member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr. Photo: Chris Roe.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said he appreciated that not everybody could work but did “urge and encourage those who can to get skilled up”.

However Anglicare notes that in many cases rentals listed in their report don’t meet the needs of people receiving the Disability Support Pension. Maddeningly, the Pension is too low to allow them to rent a home that can do so.

Independent Member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr said the upcoming Tolland Renewal Project project would not only deliver better social housing but also increase housing supply, lessening the strain on the Riverina/Murray rental market.

“I have spoken to the Planning Minister personally about the Tolland project; he indicated that they’ve actually got 60 new housing places coming online in the next 18 months,” he said.

“Government has indicated to me personally that they are very excited and there is a clear way forward for it.

“I think the reality is that from an environmental perspective, and just from a land-use perspective, a move to higher density housing is not unreasonable.”

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NSW Nationals Party MLC Wes Fang echoed Dr McGirr’s statements, adding one obvious factor preventing it from happening quickly was cost.

“That’s increasing, given land values in regional areas are increasing,” he said.

Mr Fang noted that as the desire for people to move out of metropolitan areas increases alongside regional population growth, the need for social housing would also increase.

“That’s why we’ve made quite large investments in trying to reform the social housing sector in regional areas,” he said.

The 2022 Anglicare Regional Rental Affordability Snapshot can be viewed here.

If you live in the Riverina region and this story has raised any issues for you, you can contact the following services:

  • Link2home Homelessness – 1800 152 152
  • Housing Contact Centre – 1800 422 322
  • Micah Hub – St Vincent de Paul – 6921 7337, 53 Gurwood St, Wagga Wagga
  • Edel Quinn – St Vincent de Paul – (02) 5942 3555, 6 Edel Quinn Ln, Wagga Wagga

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Well done Anglicare. What a great report and beautifully presented in a format that shows the stark reality of many regional places.

The only other reports I have heard regarding the regional housing crisis is via industry bodies or other similar groups. They only look at it from a profit side rather than the human side. Also I heard a report on the ABC this week of a Melbourne study stating people moving to the regions from the cities are increasing regional house prices and forcing locals to look elsewhere for ‘affordable’ housing that doesn’t exist.

That’s the arrogance of these city folk who need an official report to tell them the obvious. Before COVID this had been occurring for about the previous 5 years through many reasons; its just accelerated in the last couple of years.

There is nothing in the current federal election that will change anything. While the ALP has a bit of a housing policy, why did it take until the election to flesh it out? Why didn’t they care enough to have it out in the open earlier? Make it a fait accompli. If they get in, I bet there won’t be 10,000 in the first year because it will take ages to set the thing up, and then once the bureaucracy takes over, it will stall. And just wait until the people who don’t need a house work out how to rort the system.

And what about low cost housing for the disadvantaged? Nothing really in there except for The Greens.

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