'Housing stress' on the rise

NEW data that shows government rental assistance helps 44% of low-income earners suffering "housing stress" to find a home has given further backing to maintain the scheme.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, released Wednesday, reinforced the role of the rental subsidies and social housing in helping low-income Australians find a home.

While the report focused on housing assistance programs, it has also backed Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews' plans to close loopholes in the scheme that were being exploited by wealthy foreign students.

The report found that since 2007-08, the proportion of low-income households in rental stress (spending more than 30% of their income on rent) rose from 37% to 44% in 2011-12.

It also verified the barriers for young people to enter the home ownership market, finding that while 61% of Australians aged 25-34 could buy their own home in 1981, the figure fell to only 47% of the same age group by 2011.

Institute spokesman Geoff Neideck said the research confirmed that young Australians and more "low-to-moderate income earners" were now also having trouble buying a first home.

The report also found more than 410,000 "households" were living in social housing in June last year.

However, it confirmed the demand for social housing was still outstripping supply, with an extra 217,000 Australian households on waiting lists for social housing as at June 2013.


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