While the increase to JobSeeker payments has eased housing stress for many, the latest Rental Affordability Index report revealed that Tasmanians are facing a deepening trend of rental stress.
The index, released annually by National Shelter, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, SGS Economics & Planning and the Brotherhood of St Laurence, provided an indication on the early impact of COVID-19, measuring rental affordability for households until the June quarter.
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While Hobart kept the unfortunate title of being the most unaffordable capital city in Australia for renters, regional Tasmania remained the least affordable of the rest of the state areas studied.
It had an RAI score of 114 - down from 116 in June 2019.
According to the index, Launceston shifted to "mostly acceptable", with exceptions in the suburbs of Legana, Kings Meadows and Youngtown which are "moderately unaffordable."
Brotherhood of St Laurence director of research and policy Professor Shelley Mallett said that despite the increase to JobSeeker, many Tasmanians still faced severe rental affordability.
"Rental stress has become so entrenched and severe for low-income households that the JobSeeker supplement has brought little relief - with the situation for most low-income households in these metropolitan areas remaining untenable," Professor Mallett said.
Shelter Tasmania chief executive Pattie Chugg said the data in the index was concerning.
"Data from the latest RAI is consistent with what our members tell us on a daily basis: the extreme difficulty of finding affordable rental properties in all regions of Tasmania," Ms Chugg said.
"The index shows declining affordability in Tasmania's regional areas, where Tasmania remains the least affordable of the rest of the state areas.
"Our members are reporting that across the state, rising rent and low income growth is creating unprecedented hardship for many people seeking to find an affordable home."
Shelter Tasmania said the index shows Tasmanians facing a deepening trend of rental stress, where the households on the lowest 40% of incomes pay 30% or more of their income in rent.
Ms Chugg said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of a safe and secure home, and called for action to reverse the deepening trend.
"We have seen that the Tasmanian government can act quickly to support people in housing hardship and facing homelessness, and this report shows the need to build new housing supply and extend the social housing target to achieve 10% of dwellings," Ms Chugg said.
"Housing is the most essential infrastructure we could build."
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