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Rental Stress and Housing Insecurity

You don’t need to be an economist to know the cost of living – especially the cost of housing – has skyrocketed in the last few years. Many Australians, especially young Australians, don’t just know about this increase; it’s having a serious impact on their lives.

Recent data from CoreLogic shows rents are up 9.1% across capital cities and 10.8% in regional areas compared with 12 months ago. This is pushing more and more Australians into rental stress and housing insecurity – especially young people.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from 2019/2020 reveals just how bad things are for young people. Renters aged 15-24, 22.3% were spending 30-50% of their income on their rent – the largest of any age group. 11.5% of 15–24-year-olds were spending more than 50% of their income on their rent!

This is particularly alarming when you consider the ABS defines ‘rental stress’ as housing that costs more than 30% of the gross household income. It’s no wonder young people make up just over one-fifth of all homeless people in Australia.

With interest rates rising and inflation yet to peak, it will only get worse. 74% of all responders to our Instagram Poll were worried about their rent going up.

“If our rent was to go up, I’d have to move.”

“I can’t afford it”

“I would have to work extra hours”

“I would have to cut back elsewhere – food, power, etc”

How do we fix this rental crisis? It’s not by calling on young people to ditch the avo toast or avoid restaurants, and it shouldn’t require people to miss out on essentials like food or medicine.

We need to build more social and affordable housing. Just as we invest in schools and hospitals we need to invest in stable, safe and affordable housing – shelter is a basic requirement for people’s wellbeing, especially young people.

We also need to look at how we make renting fairer. How much and how often your rent can be hiked differs widely across our states and territories as do the protections renters have.

To end what feels like a permanent housing crisis we need a National Housing Strategy, so we have a plan that all levels of government are committed to. This plan must include a National Homelessness Strategy that addresses the gendered and intersectional drivers of homelessness. This plan needs to be informed by the voices of young people with lived experience of rental stress, housing insecurity and homelessness so the solutions reflect their unique needs.

YWCA is committed to supporting young women and gender diverse people with lived experience to have a say on what’s prioritised in a National Homelessness and Housing Plan.

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