Older women renters are struggling in an insecure and unaffordable rental housing market. A combination of high rents and low incomes leaves many living in substandard housing and unable to afford necessities like food and energy bills.
My research shows rent increases further stress household budgets, and evictions magnify these risks. COVID-19 makes the need for reform even more urgent. Secure housing is the first line of community defence against the pandemic.
Unaffordable, substandard rentals
Rental stress occurs when households spend more than 30% of their income on rent. On average, low-income households spend “almost 40% of their disposable income on rent”.
Many households experience relatively short periods of rental stress. However, older low-income renters have very limited options.
In a report released today, single older women living on low incomes describe to me how high and rising rents left them struggling to meet day-to-day costs. Many paid rent before they bought food or paid power bills because the alternative was eviction. This is why the Productivity Commission describes rental affordability as a “driver of disadvantage” for low-income households.
Authors: Emma Power, Senior Research Fellow, Geography and Urban Studies, Western Sydney University