Rent squeeze tightens

Rent squeeze tightens

Logan’s poorest residents have been “priced-out” of rentals, according to a new study, with less than half-a-percent of properties in the city affordable for those on income support.

Meanwhile, the federal treasurer and Rankin member Jim Chalmers is yet to confirm whether cost-of-living relief is on the cards just weeks ahead of the budget announcement.

An analysis of Logan’s rentals over a weekend period last month showed those receiving government income-support could afford only three rentals of the 731 on the market.

Sue Cooke, the CEO of the report’s author Anglicare Southern Queensland, said the study painted a “grim picture” for Logan.

“This is the result of decades of policy that’s driven the private rental market, and then we’ve had the crises over the last few years – housing supply, pandemics, migration, natural disasters – so this has been a crisis-in-the-making,” Ms Cooke said.

“There has been a lot of warning coming in, and then of course this year statistics show the absolutely grim and dire position we’re in now.”

Anglicare reported an influx of cries for help from Logan residents, which Ms Cooke said led to the development of a newly announced apartment building at Beenleigh set to provide housing for up to 50 struggling youth.

While the long-term solution to the current crisis should by rooted in public and social housing, Ms Cooke said, the government urgently needed to increase Centrelink payments for struggling locals.

The federal treasurer said the upcoming budget would feature cost-of-living relief, mainly in the form of tax cuts.

“If we can afford to do a little more than that, then those decisions will be taken in the next week or two,” Mr Chalmers said last week.

“We want our cost‑of‑living help to be part of the solution to inflation rather than part of the problem.”

Ms Cooke said tax cuts were a great way of providing relief for a broad range of Logan residents but fell short of helping those who need it most.

“You have to be a wage earner for you to get any benefit [from tax cuts] so we’re still really missing out on relief for the vulnerable, which is those that are on income support payments,” she said.

“And we haven’t seen a significant uplift in income support payments when compared to uplifts in everything else, so they’re really being left behind year on year.”

The Anglicare report revealed some households are spending up to and over 80 per cent of their total household income on rent.

“Meaning they are forced to make untenable choices between paying rent or putting food on the table or going to the doctor or to school – all fundamental needs,” Ms Cooke said.

She said the housing crisis was being addressed at a state and federal level – including the $2 billion Queensland Housing Investment Fund and the Queensland Housing and Homeless Action Plan.

But more needed to be done to manage the “chronic undersupply of housing and to provide the means for people to obtain safe and secure homes”.

“Unfortunately, these figures highlight the stark reality of the cost-of-living crisis on the most vulnerable in our communities,” she said.

“They show there is a pressing need for comprehensive policy reforms at all levels to address the widening gap in rental affordability.”

Logan’s mayor Jon Raven said residents were “really struggling to make ends meet” and called on the state government to do more.

“While it’s great that the Queensland Government is investing in social housing and boosting homelessness services – our community would agree that it’s not enough,” Cr Raven said.

“Vulnerable Logan residents are still falling through the cracks, and they need help.

“I’m calling on the Queensland Government to invest in urgent priorities for our city, including a homeless support hub, and more crisis and transitional housing.”

Ms Cooke said it was imperative national and state policies reflected “the basic human right to housing, ensuring that no one is left behind”.

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