Anglicare's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot has revealed a lack of affordable housing options for families in Goulburn, particularly those on low incomes.
The data shows a small portion of properties would be affordable for people relying on government payments, with virtually no houses available for anyone receiving Jobseeker, Youth Allowance or a single person on a disability or aged pension. The only category which showed reasonable availability were couples with children on minimum wage receiving the family tax benefit.
The data, which calculates affordable housing as 30 per cent of household income, is a blow for people in the Goulburn region who are trying to keep up with rental payments, or enter the private rental market. The end of the coronavirus supplement in April and lifting of rental moratoriums to protect tenants, has pushed many families into further financial hardship.
Anglicare's regional manager of housing and social services Toni Reay said the data was heartbreaking.
"We have a housing system that is simply not working, and families who are disadvantaged are suffering the most," Ms Reay said.
"COVID-19 has seen people from metro areas move into regional areas like Goulburn. People who may have been in stable rentals during COVID are finding increased rents unaffordable but lack of housing options means they have little choice but to go into arrears with payments.
"There is an increase in older people experiencing housing stress, with no rent adjustments for hardship if a partner passes away. Many of the clients we see at our service are living in substandard private rental accommodation as it's so difficult to find another rental. Some of our clients have faced eviction and are couch surfing or living in temporary accommodation."
As well as emergency and transitional housing assistance, Anglicare's service in Goulburn provides case management, food relief and referrals to other services such as financial counselling.
"State and federal governments should acknowledge the housing crisis that we are in and provide funding to services to assist clients in housing stress. More funding should also be committed to increasing social and community housing options and government income benefits should be raised so people can seek affordable housing," Ms Reay said.
For Goulburn resident and young mother Isabella, the rental situation in Goulburn affects working families as well as those on government supports.
"Even with my partner working full time and me looking after our one-year-old daughter, we can't afford day care all the time, we're still looking for a private rental," she said.
Over the past 12 months we've applied for over 40 places in and around Goulburn. We are young so people don't want to give us a home because they assume it will be a party house. But we have a young child and just want a family home.- Isabella, Goulburn resident
"Over the past 12 months we've applied for over 40 places in and around Goulburn. We are young so people don't want to give us a home because they assume it will be a party house. But we have a young child and just want a family home."
When living with family and friends was no longer possible, especially after falling pregnant with their daughter, Isabella and her partner turned to Anglicare for help.
"My mum took me to Anglicare, and within a week the team told me they had a unit available at the refuge. We stayed there until I had my baby. After a few months, we moved to the transitional housing," she said.
"We are looking for a private rental but it's tough and it puts stress on our relationship. I honestly think we'd be couch-surfing or homeless if Anglicare hadn't stepped in."
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.