Homelessness groups are demanding the federal government prioritise renters, as Australians are slugged a new weekly record of $601 in rent and demands for homelessness services surge.
Data released by CoreLogic has revealed the soaring cost of housing across the country, as renters faced a median cost of $31,252 a year to keep a roof over their heads.
Rent has jumped by a median of $164 to $601 per week in December 2023, from $437 per week in August 2020.
Sydney topped the market as the most expensive city to rent in, setting people back $745 per week.
Canberra followed in second place at $651 per week and Perth ranked third as renters forked out $630 per week.
Brisbane recorded the fourth highest weekly rental price at $627, with Darwin coming in fifth at $611 per week.
Melbourne and Adelaide were tied at $565 per week.
Hobart was the cheapest capital city to rent in, with a median price of $535 per week.
The portion of gross median household income needed to pay for rent surged from 26.7 per cent of income in March 2020 to almost a third in September last year.
“The reduction in social housing supply as a portion of all dwellings over the decades has placed more pressure on the private rental market, as has a declining rate of home ownership,” CoreLogic’s report says.
Meanwhile, the Productivity Commission’s annual report on government services shows the number of people leaving homelessness support and falling into rough sleeping has jumped by almost a quarter.
Requests for accommodation have risen, and 57,519 people have been identified as needing shelter but not provided with it.
Homelessness Australia has urged Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to support people unable to afford private housing as Labor considers a cost-of-living package.
“Huge swathes of Australians have been absolutely crunched by the housing crisis,” the statement reads.
“Providers are being asked to make impossible choices, like turning away a teenager fleeing an abusive home because a mum with young kids has also walked through the door.”
Homelessness Australia estimates an extra $450 million is needed to respond to the crisis.
The federal government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund and national housing accord will deliver 40,000 social and affordable rental homes.
Housing group Everybody’s Home urged to government to put the more than six million renters at the forefront of their decisions and work with states and territories to limit rent increases.
“Housing stress is through the roof,” spokeswoman Maiy Azize said.
“The latest rent assistance increase has already been swallowed up by surging rents.”
Antipoverty Centre spokeswoman and disability support recipient Kristin O’Connell called on the Commonwealth to abandon its cost-of-living strategy altogether and instead increase all Centrelink payments above the poverty line.
“We cannot afford for the government to waste more time with piecemeal measures designed for the headlines that don’t improve our lives while people try and get by on hundreds of dollars a week below the poverty line,” Ms O’Connell said.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas conceded a big challenge was ensuring more housing stock hit the market, urging the private sector to step up.
“The challenge is profound and that will require the partnership … and reform in terms of the planning system that will be necessary to be able to achieve that,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The state has the lowest proportion of social housing nationwide with only 2.8 per cent while the rental vacancy rate is 1.17 per cent amounting to 7300 homes available in December.