Looking for housing is a 'dire crisis' for people on the lowest incomes, statistics in a new rental affordability report reveal, and the situation is worsening in Ballarat.
Anglicare's Rental Affordability Snapshot National Report surveyed more than 69,000 private rental listings across Australia during one sample weekend on March 23 2019.
The report released on Monday found only two properties across the entire country were affordable for people on Newstart and the Youth Allowance.
It revealed a particular concern for older people in expensive and insecure rentals, with only three percent of rentals nationwide found to be affordable for a couple on the Aged Pension and less than one per cent affordable for a single person on the Aged Pension.
For too many people, paying the rent means they can't afford to eat decent food, fill a prescription, pay for transport, or buy clothes.Kasy Chambers, Anglicare executive director
A single person working full-time on the minimum wage will find only two per cent of rentals are affordable across Australia, while those underemployed or working casually are likely to face an even tougher housing battle.
Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers said the rental affordability report was an urgent call for government investment in social housing.
"For too many people, paying the rent means they can't afford to eat decent food, fill a prescription, pay for transport, or buy clothes," she said.
"As our governments walk away from social housing, more people must fend for themselves in a market that is out of control."
Those on low incomes are suffering in Ballarat's tight rental market with a record-low 0.8 per cent rental vacancy rate and dozens of other applicants to compete against with each rental application.
The Rental Affordability 2019 Victoria Snapshot, conducted as part of the national snapshot, showed there were more suitable options in regional than metropolitan areas for people living on income support payments and the minimum wage, but the market in regional areas too is getting tighter.
Ballarat was listed as the ninth most affordable regional area for households on a minimum wage with 67.6 per cent of listings found suitable.
Meanwhile, 6.1 per cent of rental listings were found to be suitable for households on income support payments.
No properties in Ballarat were found to be affordable and appropriate for single parents on Parenting Payment with two children, for single parents on Newstart with one child over eight, singles on Youth Allowance and Newstart and singles in a share house on Youth Allowance.
More broadly, only one in 50 rental properties are affordable for Victorian households living on income support payments, leaving vulnerable Victorians locked out of the property market.
Uniting Ballarat housing and homelessness coordinator Warrick Davison said around 160 households were waiting on the organisation's priority list for transitional housing support.
"People are struggling with just being able to access the rental market," he said.
"We have had people in here who have applied for 80 plus rentals. They don't have a bad rental history, they just can't get a foot in the door.
"There are 10, 15, 30 people turning up to inspections and the number of people who apply can be more than double that.
We have had people in here who have applied for 80 plus rentals.Warrick Davison, Uniting Ballarat
"The rental affordability report echoes a lot of what we have been noticing and seeing over the years. the housing situation is not improving. There needs to be a revamp of incomes and development of lower cost properties."
Department of Social Services data shows there are nearly half a million Australians on government income support who pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent, the marker for affordable housing.
Housing affordability is rated as a top three issue by nearly a third of all voters in recent polls. Over 40 percent of Australians worry they could become homeless if their circumstances change, and over half feel stretched to meet their current costs, the report states.
Anglicare Australia calls for government investment in social housing that considers demand for one and two bedroom homes that are appropriate for the elderly and people with a disability.
More than 142,500 Australians are on the waiting list for social housing, and half of those who were finally given a home in 2016-17 were already homeless.
Modelling shows to meet demand, the Federal Government must invest in 300,000 new social and Indigenous-specific rentals, and 200,000 low-cost rentals, according to Social and Affordable Housing Projections for Australia published last year.
Anglicare Victoria also calls for an increase to the rate of the Newstart and Youth Allowances, ongoing work to ensure that parents and children leaving family violence have access to dedicated, safe and affordable housing, and an increase to state-funded out of home care making it available to more young people up to 21 years of age.