Half a million Australians under housing stress

MORE than half a million Australians are under "housing stress" struggling to pay their rent, despite receiving the Federal Government rent assistance payments, a new report has found.

The report, released by the National Welfare Rights Network on Friday, found up to 40% of those on rental assistance were still forced to pay more than 30% of their total income on rent.

It also found a quarter of unemployed people on the Newstart Allowance were paying more than half of their income on rent, and that the payment was not keeping pace with rent rises in the market.

That payment gives more than 1.2 million Australians up to $167 a fortnight to help pay their rent, depending on their family situation, with singles with no children on $126 a fortnight.

Welfare network chief executive Maree O'Halloran said the payment helped reduce the number of people in "housing stress" - defined as spending more than 30% of their income on housing - down from 67% to 40%.

But, she said, it was failing those most in need of help, with more than 164,000 households receiving the benefit in "severe housing stress" and paying more than half their income on rent.

"Of these households, 38%, or 63,606 were on the below-poverty-level Newstart Allowance," Ms O'Halloran said.

"The proportion of pension recipients in severe housing stress was much smaller, with 6.2% of all disability support pension recipients, 6% of age pensioners, 5.8% of carer payment recipients and 6% of those receiving parenting payment (single) paying over half of their weekly income on rent."

The report recommended increasing the rate of rent assistance by 30%, or up to $40 for some families receiving it; indexing the payment to rental market increases and raising social security payments including Newstart.



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