Aug 02, 2021

Pandemic heroes facing homelessness: Rental crisis hits COVID-essential workforce

Homeless woman

Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness, cross-referenced SQM rent data with the basic hourly wage of workers in disability support, aged care, childcare, hospitality and supermarkets. The research is being launched to mark the start of national Homelessness Week.

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.

Everybody’s Home national spokesperson, Kate Colvin, said Australia’s housing system wasn’t working for normal Australians.

“While eye-watering rents are worst in our major cities, essential workers are increasingly priced out of  coastal and bush communities, too. People with big city incomes are moving to the regions and totally warping the rental markets. 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.”

Colvin continue, “We 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. 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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  1. Whilst I agree with the need for affordable housing, just to let you know, since the pandemic rents have gone down, significantly and there are high rates of vacancy. Sadly, some areas are and will remain more expensive as they are desirable. When I asked some aged care staff why they travelled from Blacktown to Macquarie Park, the answer was, they preferred the facility/clients/organisation. I think many people have to travel distances for work due to Sydney being so sprawled out and we have poor transport infrastructure.

  2. We appear to be “becoming America”, where the rich get richer, the middle class is squeezed (& becomes poorer and likely to become homeless) and the poorest get shoved into homelessness & total poverty. I think it’s time those in government and the “squillionares” become philanthropist to assist with good quality, reasonably rented housing for those who need it.
    And, being an older nurse, give decent wage increases over the CPI for all aspects of nursing.

  3. There are always spare bedrooms at my place of work so why can’t facilities rent out rooms to some of their staff? Include washing and meals at a reasonable price. Why don’t facilities build purpose built accommodation for staff? Like hospitals used to. Dorms. Surely with all the buildings being built you would think someone would have foresight here. It’s a win win for all.

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