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Accommodation & Housing

The majority of respondents (76%) resided in rental accommodation:

  • 41% in private rental
  • 35% in public/government/community housing.32

While 13% of respondents were homeless, the figures have remained relatively static. This may imply that homelessness remains a critical issue affecting many impoverished individuals across our service.

Respondents reported they paid 59% of their income to accommodation expenses.33

For the average Australian, housing costs have been calculated to represent 20% of average gross income (in 2011-12).34 This cohort of low-income earners and income support recipients pay 59% of their income to accommodation expenses, which is three times higher than the average Australian, and twice the common benchmark of 30% used to measure housing stress in Australia.35

“I have just turned 18 and am 16 weeks pregnant. My partner of three years left me and I have been kicked out by my mum and am couch surfing.”

Seventy-eight per cent of respondents in private rental experienced extreme housing stress.

Subgroups that were also at high risk of extreme housing stress included: the part-time/casual workers (81%), couples without children (78%) and with children (77%), 25 to 34-year-olds (73%) and Newstart recipients (71%). Some of these subgroups were also present in other measures of deprivation and disadvantage. Given that respondents paid 59% of income towards accommodation expenses, this has caused respondents to experience financial hardships, with many doing without essential items, including cutting down on basic necessities and regular meals. 

This suggested the increasing costs of accommodation posed financial strain on individuals, due to a greater proportion of income spent on the cost of accommodation. As a result this subgroup experienced high levels of financial stress and needed to access community services for emergency relief and material aid.

Respondents paid $180 per week36 in accommodation expenses.

Housing costs for the public/government/state or community housing averaged $119 per week, compared to more than double ($305 per week) for households in private rental.37 This obviously varies depending on housing type, state, metropolitan and rural areas.

As private rental costs rise and public housing stocks diminish, homelessness and housing affordability remain the most significant challenge impacting clients, The Salvation Army's work and the sector as a whole. More affordable housing is critical to ensure more sustainable accommodation options to relieve housing stress, financial strain of accommodation costs and causes of homelessness.

Respondents indicated that they had $125 per week38 to live on after accommodation expenses were paid ($17.86 per day).

Given already limited financial resources, individuals and families have less than adequate money to live on each week, leading to further disadvantage, poverty and higher levels of deprivation.

NB: Total income includes all income support entitlements, including Rental Assistance.

"I live week by week paying rent and bills with no money left over for much else…I have no money to do any fun activities with my daughter and feel bad to always have to say no."

Across all households, Newstart allowance recipients had the least money to live on after accommodation expenses were paid (approximately $27-$50 less per week). Consequently, Newstart recipients had to live on as little as $9.57 per day and still had to pay for utilities, food, transport, health, medical, pharmaceuticals, education, clothing, and basic entertainment. These figures demonstrate the inadequacy of Newstart allowances for individuals and families to afford basic living costs in Australia. Furthermore, this demonstrates that without sufficient financial resources to adequately live on, disadvantaged individuals and their families are likely to remain trapped in long-term in poverty.

“ …We are left with $50 for the fortnight. We find it really hard but we seem to manage with the help of The Salvation Army. Without them we would be on the street…I take it  day by day.”

Overall, 67% of respondents experienced extreme housing stress,39 paying more than 50% of their income for accommodation. 

32. We observed a significant increase in the percentage of those renting the public/government/state or community housing in 2015 compared to the 2014 survey. However results were likely due to changes in the way we record the information and may not reflect the significant increase in the number of public/government rentals.
33. Equals accommodation expenses divided by rough estimate income.
34. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) 4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2011-12.
35. NB: Measures of housing affordability is on the lowest 40% of households by comparable incomes.
36. Median per week
37. ABS 2012. Yearbook Australia 2012. Housing costs: Housing Occupancy and Costs, Australia (4130.0). Accessed 4 May 2015, viewed here
38. Median per week