A new report has highlighted a looming housing crisis over fears that low and modest incomes in these areas will be worse.

Low and modest incomes are in the grip of a housing crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic pushes rents up, according to a new report.

Researchers from the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have found that soaring rents are a problem across the country, especially in regional areas.

The research also highlighted loopholes in the country’s investment in social and affordable housing, noting that while investments from some states would add more than 23,000 new homes, more than 400,000 households would still need affordable housing.

While rents fell sharply in some downtown suburbs at the start of the pandemic, from mid-2020 they increased and by August 2021 were accelerating to over 8% – the fastest pace. faster since 2008.

But the report found that the rapid acceleration in rents was not limited to cities.

Regional rent increases have now overtaken metropolitan areas, especially in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, with a massive increase of 12.4% (through August 2021), according to the report.

For regional Australia, the proportion of rentals that low-income renters could afford rose from 41% to 33% in this year.

ACOSS Executive Director Dr Cassandra Goldie said most state governments have done a good job protecting homeless people during the Covid-19 crisis, but demand is not wavering.

“Community organizations across the country are telling us about the increasing levels of desperation experienced by people who try and fail to find affordable housing for their families in metropolitan and regional areas,” she said.

“The situation of those on the waiting list for social housing is increasingly desperate, as individuals and families struggle to keep a roof over their heads in the face of rising market rents. private or are forced to stay in circumstances that are neither healthy nor secure. “

Ashlie Stevenson, 65, has been homeless and couch-surfing in Sydney since April last year, but her life situation has been in dire straits for much longer.

She lost her job eight years ago and said she couldn’t find a job despite wanting to work and sending out hundreds of applications.

Ms Stevenson said she had “languished” for seven years on the New South Wales social housing waiting list with no end in sight and was often forced to choose between rent and food on social allowances for job seekers.

“Having a place to come home every day, how do you describe that? Imagine if you didn’t have a place to come home tonight, ”she said.

“I’ve been (volunteering) with the homeless, strangely enough, for six years, so I know exactly what’s going on, it’s just ironic that I’ve become one of them. “

She said having stable housing would make a huge difference in every aspect of her life and that she would like governments to provide as much housing as possible.

“I don’t know who makes it seem that the poor are responsible for their own situation and should be punished for it,” she said.

Keagan Nicotra, 29, another job seeker who is on the verge of homelessness in the western suburbs of Melbourne, echoed the same concerns.

“Some of us got here by mistakes. Some of us came here by chance. We are all trying to get out, ”he said.

In the report, ACOSS recommended that the federal government urgently commit to funding a national social housing construction program, strengthen Commonwealth rent assistance, and continue to support and expand housing programs. incentive to rent affordable housing.

He proposed a significant increase in capital funding from the Commonwealth government to provide at least 20,000 new social housing units and a 50% increase in the payment of Commonwealth rent assistance to low-income households to relieve rental stress.

He also proposed the creation of a new investment incentive to support the construction of new affordable rental properties for people with low and modest incomes.

The federal government has been contacted for comment.