Increase Newstart, rent help, pleads Social Futures CEO
RECENT bushfires have intensified the rental availability issues faced by Northern Rivers residents, according to the chief executive of Social Futures.
"Loss of housing stock through fires has added to the pressure on services across the North Coast to help people find affordable housing," Tony Davies said.
"We are coming across a number of people who have lost everything and having challenges with the amount of income support available to them.
"There is no doubt that concrete action across government to increase Newstart and Rent Assistance would change the outlook for many."
Mr Davies has renewed calls for the government to increase Newstart and Rent Assistance payments following the release of a Productivity Commission report on housing affordability.
The 2020 Report into Government Services revealed 40 per cent of Australians receiving Rent Assistance still live in "chronic" housing stress.
Housing or rental stress occurs when more than 30 per cent of a household's income is spent on rent.
The report also indicates that one in eight are forking out more than half their income just to keep a roof over their head.
Mr Davies said half of the people who come to Social Futures for support are homeless due to financial reasons.
At the last census in 2016 there were 1500 homeless people on the Northern Rivers and Mr Davies said its unlikely this number has changed.
Despite a strong demand for affordable housing in the region, most investors are channelling their finances into other development opportunities.
Mr Davies said affordable housing projects needs to be incentivised.
"In the private sector when you take a huge risk you need to maximise profits," Mr Davies said.
"Affordable housing needs government support, it needs more zoning concessions to support it."
Social Futures has long been an advocate of the raise the rate campaign and Mr Davies believes welfare increases could be the boost coastal communities such as ours need during the tourism lull.
"What money they do have, they spend locally, which is the stimulus we need after the bushfires," Mr Davies said.