A HOUSING affordability crisis has rocked the Riverina, having a devastating impact on society’s most vulnerable, says Anglicare Riverina general manager Brad Addison.
Riverina resident Mark Grimes spends upwards of 30 per cent of his disability pension to live in a three-bedroom flat with two housemates.
Mr Addison said Anglicare’s recent study revealed less than one quarter of Wagga’s rental properties were affordable for low income earners.
Mr Addison said Anglicare and society’s vulnerable people were crying out for “the government to treat this as a housing crisis”.
“There needs to be significant public and private investment in affordable housing.
“Current housing commissions are very aged – and are not suitable for many demographics, such as singles or people with disabilities.”
Mr Grimes was in foster care for most of his childhood – he said his transition from state care to living independently was a scarring experience that has left him behind his peers.
“As soon as your 18 you’re out (of state care),” Mr Grimes said.
“You’re legally recognised as an adult but continue making the same mistakes.”
Mr Grimes was given a rental opportunity at that age that he “ruined” leaving him “blacklisted from the rental market”.
“I was left stuck between couch surfing and homelessness – I drifted around until I was 25.”
Mr Grimes is studying to work and information technology and said the money he receives from his disability position is significantly higher than those on Newstart.
“What are they meant to live on?”
Both men called for the government to act immediately, to ensure young people could afford to study and live – allowing them to lead more productive lives.
“The government should be doing more to help vulnerable people,” Mr Grimes said.
“There is affordable housing in Gundagai but there are no employment opportunities there, and no public transport options."
The snapshot surveyed 415 properties available for rent on Saturday, April 11 in terms of affordability, meaning the accommodation could cost up to 30 per cent of a persons disposable income.
The survey found no flats, townhouses or villas affordable for a young person on Newstart.
“Even in light of the changes to single parents benefits, it is shocking to find that the majority of full time low-skilled workers cannot afford to live with their family in Wagga,” Mr Addison said.
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