Left out in the cold on Newstart: no available rental properties for singles

DIRE SITUATION: Major Greg Saunders.

DIRE SITUATION: Major Greg Saunders.

SINGLE people on government benefits in Orange have no options when it comes to affordable housing. 

Anglicare’s annual national rental affordability snapshot, which was completed on Saturday, April 5, showed there were no properties available and affordable for a single person on Newstart or youth allowance. 

For a property to be classed as affordable, the rent must be less than 30 per cent of a person’s income. 

Anglicare Western general manager Brad Addison said compared to Wagga Wagga and Albury, Orange was significantly less affordable. 

“Mining is a factor, particularly in the Orange area because the miners eat up a lot of the market,” he said. 

Salvation Army major Greg Saunders said the situation was dire and that the government’s decision to move single mothers over to Newstart once their youngest child turned eight had created extra demand on support services. 

He said most of the people who came seeking assistance were women but people had stopped coming into the Orange branch for help with accommodation because “they’ve given up”.

“People don’t want to rent to people on benefits ... there’s a real stigma out there and some of it is probably deserved but you can’t generalise everybody,” he said. 

Major Saunders said the government policy of encouraging investment had affected the availability of affordable properties. 

“It’s a catch 22 the government encourages investment in rentals but it is all high end,” he said. 

Mr Addison said working families were only slightly better off with 20 properties available for single mothers on the minimum wage and 81 properties for couples earning minimum wage with children. 

“Young people have it particularly tough. The market is far beyond their price range and for some it can lead to couch surfing and homelessness,” said Mr Addison. 

Major Saunders and Mr addison agreed the Newstart and youth allowance payments needed to rise by a minimum of $50 per week and there needs to be investment in more affordable housing. 

Mr Addison said he knew it would not happen. 

Data obtained from the Department of Family and Community Services shows the wait for social housing in Orange with one or two bedrooms is five to 10 years, and the wait for three and four-bedroom properties is two to five years.

The data has not changed since last year.

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