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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Housing stress worsens under pandemic: ANU

The number of Australians experiencing housing stress, unable to pay their rent or mortgage on time, has more than doubled since the pandemic began, data from the Australian National University (ANU) suggests.

In a survey of over 3,200 people, the study found the number of people not being able to meet regular payments for housing costs increased from 6.9% in April to 15.1% in May.

According to the study’s co-author, Professor Matthew Gray, the level of housing stress is “substantially higher” for renters than for mortgage holders, and for young people.

“What’s also worrying is that young adults are experiencing very high rates of housing stress, with 44% of people aged 18 to 24 years unable to pay their rent on time,” Professor Gray said.

“Young Australians are still more likely to be in housing stress once income and socioeconomic status is controlled for, suggesting that there is more to housing stress than just income for this group. This is because their accumulated savings and wealth are likely to be low.”

The number of young people aged 18-24 experiencing housing stress increased from 10.3% in April to 27.5% in May, while those aged between 35 and 44 experiencing stress increased from 5.9% to 27.5%.

“Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic has put lots of young Australians under incredible stress. And this is while they are also likely dealing with other major stresses in their lives like potential loss of income,” Professor Gray said.

He said the study also looked at policies from governments and banks to protect renters and mortgage holders unable to make payments. Just over one in 10 renters have been successful in reducing or freezing their payments, compared to 22.2% of mortgage holders.

Housing and rental affordability has been at the forefront of the pandemic conversation, with a number of organisations calling on the National Cabinet to offer renters more support.

A recent survey from the Australian Council of Social Service has highlighted concerns from people receiving the Coronavirus Supplement about what they will do when the additional payments end in September. More than nine in 10 (94% of respondents to the survey) said the loss of the supplement would have a significant or extreme impact on their ability to cover costs.

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