The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) today released its latest Cost of Living Update, which highlights problems of rental affordability in South Australia.
Drawing on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the South Australian government, the report shows that the increasing cost of renting has coincided with a decline in the provision of public housing and concludes that greater investment in public housing will boost supply and help all renters.
The data in the report shows that:
- renters on average have lower incomes and proportionately higher housing costs than home-owners, and so are particularly impacted by housing affordability issues;
- even rents at the less expensive end of the market in Adelaide are unaffordable for people on very low incomes (e.g average rent equals 75% of JobSeeker payment);
- rents have gone up significantly in the last 20 years – faster than both inflation and key income sources such as the JobSeeker allowance, and the minimum wage;
(e.g. average rent for a 2 bedroom unit in Adelaide increased by $113 in real terms between 2000 and 2021: JobSeeker increased by $34.50, the minimum wage by $87);
- In the last 12 months (Dec 2020 – Dec 2021), the price of new rentals in South Australia has increased by 7.2%, including an 11.1% increase for 3-bedroom houses in Adelaide. This 7.2% increase is more than double the general inflation rate.
- the number of social housing dwellings has declined from 9.9% of the housing market in 2000 to 6.7% in 2021.
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said:
“While much of the public debate around housing affordability centres on home owners and house prices, it is often renters that have the biggest affordability challenges – particularly those on the lowest incomes.”
“Our report shows that an age pensioner in a 2-bedroom unit could easily be paying over 50% of their income on rent, while a single parent on the minimum wage would see around 35% of their income go on rent at the bottom end of the market.”
“Many of the levers of rental affordability lie with the federal government, but the biggest thing the state government could do would be to invest in social housing. This would provide much-needed housing for those who otherwise struggle in the private market, but it would also provide an economic stimulus and increase the supply of rental properties – which could benefit all renters through less competition for properties and lower prices.”
SACOSS is calling on all parties in the state election to commit to a significant investment (at least around the same order-of-magnitude as the Victorian package – pro-rata = $1.4bn over 4 years) to increase the net stock of public housing in South Australia.