More than 99 per cent of rental properties in WA too expensive for pensioners and workers on minimum wage

Joint Media release: Australian Greens housing spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam, Greens WA housing spokesperson Lynn MacLaren MLC.

Rental housing affordability in WA has gone beyond breaking point, The Greens said today, as new figures show workers on the minimum wage, pensioners, and unemployed people cannot afford 99 per cent of West Australian rental properties. Australian Greens housing spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot 2012 released today showed rising rents were causing severe pressure on people.

“Single people on the minimum wage can afford 0.75 per cent of the rental properties in WA. That’s working people – priced out of 99.25 per cent of the rental market. Couples on the aged pension in WA are in the same position. Single people on the aged pension can only afford 0.2 per cent of rentals, and single people - including single parents - on NewStart – zero per cent. They literally can’t afford to rent anything, anywhere in this state. The word crisis is no longer enough to describe this situation.”

Anglicare surveyed more than 65,000 rental properties across the nation. Senator Ludlam backed their call for urgent intervention at State and Federal levels to tackle the emergency head-on.

“The Greens have been ringing the alarm bell for years on this growing problem. It’s now a national shame. Pensioners, workers on the minimum wage and people on NewStart are being forced to drastically cut back on essentials in order to keep a roof over their heads – and often that is not enough.”

“We need interventions from the Commonwealth and WA governments to alleviate the pressure. Increasing benefits and rent assistance and boosting social housing building programs are the top priority – as a matter of urgency. The Greens call for an expansion of the National Rental Affordability Scheme and for all levels of government to embrace our Convert to Rent initiative – to make vacant dwellings available for affordable rental properties.”

Greens WA housing spokesperson Lynn MacLaren MLC said Western Australian rental affordability was markedly worse than the national average.

“The average rental in Perth was $565 per week, inclusive of share accommodation.  For a single parent on a minimum wage, with two children, this rent would represent 66 per cent of their weekly income.

“The average rental being asked across the North West was $1374 per week. There were no suitable private rental properties for families and individuals on benefits or on minimum wage in the North West. The cheapest rental across the North West was a one bedroom unit in Broome at $420 a week.  For a single person on minimum wage that’s 71 per cent of their income. For people who don’t work in the mining sector - this is catastrophic. How much of the Royalties for Regions money has been spent on affordable housing in the Pilbara?”

“What is the current Landcorp affordable housing target?  Why is it still required to operate at a profit, in contradiction to the 2008 Report recommendation?” Ms MacLaren asked.

“The Federal Government needs to make housing affordability a top issue in the Federal Budget, with a response that matches the scale of the problem. A wafer-fine Federal Budget surplus will be of little consolation to working people, pensioners and the unemployed as they struggle to pay the rent,” said Senator Ludlam.

Media contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302