Survey finds few homes in regional Victoria within reach for single parents on welfare

Single parents on welfare have little to no chance of finding an affordable rental home in Bendigo, new data has revealed.

Anglicare Victoria’s rental affordability snapshot for 2017 showed just two per cent of rentals in regional Victoria were within range for a single person receiving parenting payments.  

There was not one property in the region a single parent on a Newstart allowance could afford, the survey found. 

While a single mother or father whose minimum wage was supplemented by Centrelink payments fared better – 16 per cent of homes in regional Victoria were considered inside their price bracket – Bendigo service providers said even employed clients were being forced to find temporary shelter.   

Mums 4 Mums co-ordinator Sammy Lysaght, whose group offered food relief to single mothers and other women in need, said many families were living in the loungerooms of their friends or family members while they waited for emergency housing to become available.

Some of those she assisted shifted from Melbourne in the hope of finding more affordable rentals, only to be left disappointed.

“I’m getting a lot of phone calls for help,” Ms Lysaght said. 

“But you can't pull someone out of a rut when it's just going to get deeper and deeper.” 

Other vulnerable groups, including Youth Allowance recipients, would also struggle to secure a rental in the current market, Anglicare determined. 

“If you are a mother fleeing family violence or a family or individual living on minimum wage, how can you be expected to pay for life’s essentials including food, medication, bills and school expenses, when a high amount of your income would be spent on rent?” Anglicare Victoria chief executive officer Paul MacDonald asked.

However, his organisation’s report found some areas around Bendigo were among the most affordable in the state. 

Households earning the minimum wage could afford 70 per cent or more of rentals in the Macedon Ranges, Central Goldfields and Campaspe shires.

But that did not mean there was an abundance of homes available in those areas when the snapshot was taken on March 30. 

Just 45 homes were empty in the Central Goldfields at the time. 

The Anglicare snapshot coincides with the release of an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report finding two-thirds of homelessness services are inadequately funded.