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01 October, 2022 | 03:17 AM

Rental crisis forcing people into homelessness and living in their cars

Rental crisis forcing people into homelessness and living in their cars
Alex has been living in his car with his dog for the past few months because he cannot find a rental property in Perth. “Rent prices have gone up since Covid and it is getting harder to find a place that will let me have a pet,” he told NCA NewsWire. Alex, who did not want his surname published, has a story like so many people at the moment. Prices are skyrocketing because there are so few properties available. Perth’s median rent price was $480 per week during August, $10 more per week than July. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia has warned that rents will continue to rise in Perth while there is a rental shortage. It took a median of just 16 days to lease a rental during August, three days faster than August 2021. The suburbs that recorded the fastest median leasing times were Seville Grove (10 days), Balga (11 days), Golden Bay (11 days), Piara Waters (12 days) and Ellenbrook (12 days). It is a similar scenario across the country. Data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Queensland’s population has grown by 1.8 per cent in the year to March 31. It added more than 92,000 new residents, taking its population to 5.296 million. WA had the second highest growth rate at 1.2 per cent, with the state’s population increasing by more than 32,000 residents to 2.773 million. But both states are struggling to meet housing demands. It led to a roundtable in September, convened by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, that discussed using student accommodation, granny flat rentals and a statewide tax on Airbnb properties. Meanwhile, new data shows median rents in Melbourne have increased 7.7 per cent over the past year to $430 per week and increased by 8.9 per cent to $395 in regional Victoria. Vacancy rates in Melbourne are also down to 3.6 per cent, while the rate in regional Victoria is at just 2.1 per cent. While Covid-19 lockdowns made it easier to find a cheaper rental in Melbourne, costs have now increased past pre-Covid prices and are squeezing more people out of the market. Recently released data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows there are now almost 10,000 people per month coming to Victorian homelessness services. Council to Homeless Persons is calling for 6000 new social housing properties each year for a decade to increase housing affordability and ease pressure on homelessness services. “Renters are on the frontline of Victoria’s cost of living crisis,” chief executive Jenny Smith said. “More renters are being pushed into homelessness because they can’t find a rental they can afford. “Homelessness services are overwhelmed with people desperate for a home, and too many Victorians in urgent need of homelessness support are missing out.” Alex, who has a steady income, is yet to seek any homeless services in WA. “I know technically I am homeless, but I don’t really see myself that way,” he said. “I am still hopeful of finding a place to live soon. Otherwise, I will keep relying on friends, which is hard.”