8 December 2023

Rental housing shortage hardest on those on income support

Families fleeing domestic violence are badly affected by homelessness. Picture: iStock

Jenan Taylor

2May 2022

Families and single parents are struggling to find a place to live because of a shortage of suitable and affordable houses to rent, according to a recent report.

Anglicare Victoria found that the number of available properties had fallen more than 40 per cent since March 2021 and that families and single parents on income benefits were among the worst affected.

It found that for families or single parents who relied on JobSeeker, less than 0.1 per cent of properties were affordable.

Anglicare Victoria Homes for Families program manager Lucinda Bray said several families were facing homelessness because of family violence.

Homes for Families has been helping 250 families who were placed temporarily in hotels during the COVID pandemic find suitable private rental accommodation.

Ms Bray said single mothers fleeing domestic violence had been among the largest number of people supported by the program.

Having to be in temporary accommodation meant that larger families and those with school children of different age groups were having a particularly difficult time, she said.

“The children might be placed far away from their school, so they have to travel distances. Other families with older children who might be trying to do their VCE, have to be split up a little just so that the children can concentrate on their schoolwork,” she said.

“It’s also hard to get temporary accommodation when there are up to eight children. There aren’t cooking facilities and they may have to spend money on takeaway foods.”

Ms Bray said that families who were able to be placed in private accommodation had reported that they felt far less isolated and that their children were making better connections with other children in the community and at schools.

Jubilee Housing, a joint Anglican and Baptist housing provider in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, also has a large number of tenants who are single, and people who have escaped family violence.

Housing Manager, Carol Hand said that Jubilee Housing catered to people who urgently needed help and that they were seeing many older singles, both male and female.

“They may have had partners who had passed away and then found that the private rental market is beyond them,” Ms Hand said.

She said that because the provider was not widely known and only had a limited number of  properties, however, there had not been a high increase in new applicants, but when vacancies did arise, they were very quickly filled.

“Within a week there’s someone on the urgent list who desperately needs housing and we just put them straight in,” Ms Hand said.

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