Editorial June 23rd 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial, Of late we have heard much about affordable housing, and the lack thereof. It turns out, and not surprisingly, that there are multiple definitions for the term ‘affordable’ that comes down to how much a person has at hand and what their expectations are. We are told that affordable housing generally refers to housing that is considered affordable to individuals or families with low to moderate incomes and should be accessible and affordable for people who may otherwise struggle to afford decent and safe housing options. Affordable housing can take different forms, usually rental properties and, in certain cases, properties that are provided for assisted purchase involving housing initiatives supported by government programs or nonprofit organizations.
Affordable rentals are again typically set on public owned properties at a level that is affordable for low to moderate-income households, taking into account income levels. For non-government owned properties there are rental subsidies to help fill the gap driven by local housing market conditions. The Anglicare 2023 Rental Affordability Snapshot surveyed over 45,000 rental listings across Australia and found that affordability has crashed to record lows. The report noted : ”social and affordable housing in NSW is at just over 4%, which is below the OECD average of over 7% and well behind European countries such as Austria (24%) and the Netherlands (34%). Reports argue that permanently affordable rental housing is essential for a functioning economy and to ensure NSW remains a place of opportunity for all (Farid, 2022)”. The report revealed that for those in the Bega electorate, Shelter NSW (2023) found that the availability of social housing is limited, at 2.6% of residential dwellings and 862 households on the general wait list, who are waiting between 5 and 10+ years for a property.
As cost of living spirals it is inevitable that rents will increase as well due to rising interest rates. Even for those who are employed the percentage of their salary paid to rent is steadily increasing meaning that they have less money to spend on food and essentials. Eurobodalla LGA still has a high proportion of low-income households experiencing rental stress, with a large proportion of the population who are vulnerable to changes in interest rates, incomes and rental prices (Shelter NSW, 2023). We are told that in order to contain inflation the mortgage rates need to increase to limit our spending. Less spending equals less demand and it apparently quietens the market driving down inflation. Well that is the theory except that energy costs are driving everything up as well. But I am having major difficulties in understanding why the government allows the RBA to allow banks to increase their rates, milking even more profits from homeowners and investors (who own rental properties). Surely there must be another way of quelling demand, even if it means increasing the rate but directing those increases towards paying off the mortgage over a shorter time. In the meantime the spiral continues, we have no real solutions readily at hand and more and more people are hurting with the potential to not meet their mortgages and find themselves in a rental market that is limited and basically, to most, unaffordable. Stay safe folks, there is still a long bumpy road ahead. Util next—lei