OurSay: Family housing crisis

Study: Australia is second only to Hong Kong for the cost of housing for the average household.
Study: Australia is second only to Hong Kong for the cost of housing for the average household. 

The OurSay families forum has been created for Australian families to tell the Federal government which issues affect them most. One of the leading questions in the forum is from Lisa Elliot, a single mother of two who works for a community support centre.

She writes:

"Families are struggling financially under the weight of utility bills and private rental. It is obvious the negative gearing scheme did not improve the housing situation for low-income families. Will the government look at the housing crisis and fund affordable housing projects, rather than keep putting money into tax rebates for private ownership?”

Lisa Elliot, who asked about housing affordability on OurSay.
Lisa Elliot, who asked about housing affordability on OurSay. 

In Lisa’s work as an advocate on behalf of our most vulnerable community members, she finds there are many people struggling to afford the rising costs of rent and utility bills.

“I don't know how they can possibly get by if [the costs] continue to rise," she told Essential Baby. “At [our] centre, we offer financial counselling and budget support, but if there isn't enough money to cover the bills, then budgeting isn't the problem.

"We also give out food vouchers which are like a gift card for Safeway, as well as food parcels. So we are feeding families so they can afford to pay their bills.”

Lisa is not alone in her concerns. An international survey of 325 housing markets earlier this year found that Australia is second only to Hong Kong for the cost of housing for the average household.

The 8th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey found that all major Australian housing markets are ‘severely unaffordable’, with Sydney and Melbourne coming, respectively, third and fourth in the list of the most unaffordable cities in the world.

“We are almost world beaters for pricing families out of housing markets," said Joel Pringle, Campaign Manager for Australians for Affordable Housing. “And this is not just a capital city problem. Regional centres like Mildura, Shepparton, Bunbury and Toowoomba are all highlighted in the report as seriously unaffordable.


“There are structural issues with our housing markets, and until governments around Australia take decisive action the housing crisis will continue.”

Pringle adds that in spite of recent interest rate cuts, housing remains at historically unaffordable levels in Australia.

“Not one of the 32 housing markets surveyed in Australia were found to be affordable. Not even close. The best housing market we have is regarded as ‘seriously unaffordable’.”

Meanwhile, house rents in Sydney have skyrocketed. The median asking rent for a typical Sydney house has risen to $520 a week, the highest level on record for the city.

It’s a vicious cycle as families priced out of purchasing homes turn to the rental market, driving rents up further.

But while some struggle with Sydney's tight rental market, Darwin's is even more daunting, Australian Property Monitors's September quarter figures show.

Median rents there have hit $700 a week, a massive jump of 27 per cent over the year, while prospective tenants in Perth are also facing higher charges.

Melbourne is currently one the most affordable Australian cities in which to rent.

Voting in the OurSay: All About Families forum has been extended by another week. Vote for Lisa’s question, or read what other families have to say.