Stressed WA renters seeking charity help

·2-min read

More West Australians are being frozen out of the rental market as prices continue to climb, with charities also facing greater demand.

Anglicare's latest rental affordability snapshot identified 3457 available rental properties in Perth, the southwest, Great Southern and northwest regions, less than half the number available in 2020.

Fewer than 50 suitable properties were affordable for minimum wage earners and none were within reach of those on JobSeeker or the disability pension.

"In the last 12 months, we've seen a growing cohort of so-called 'working poor' employed in insecure and casualised jobs, and even those working full-time on minimum wage, are struggling to pay the rent," Anglicare WA chief executive Mark Glasson said on Thursday.

"(They) are facing tough choices, such as deciding between food or fuel."

Mr Glasson said the increased costs of rent, food, utilities and transport and stagnant wages were placing "intolerable pressure" on households.

Anglicare WA observed a 50 per cent increase in employed people seeking food handouts and financial assistance in March.

"Once a family loses their housing, their health, employment and social situation are more at risk, and require greater support," he said.

"Urgent financial support will enable the most vulnerable West Australians to avoid this fate."

Properties were considered by Anglicare to be affordable if they required less than 30 per cent of a household's income and had adequate bedrooms.

Perth's rental vacancy rate for March was 1.2 per cent, having fallen as low as 0.7 per cent in December, according to the Real Estate Institute of WA.

A rent moratorium implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Perth's median house rent falling to $370 per week in June 2020.

It has since climbed to $450 as of December last year.

Mr Glasson praised the McGowan government's social housing investments, but urged the premier to include targeted rent relief for low-income households in next month's budget.

He also urged federal leaders to commit to increasing income support payments.

"It is time for Canberra to invest in providing genuine support once again to those who can't afford to rent, let alone buy a home, as well as investing in growing our social housing stock," he said.

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