April 1, 2021

Private rental is no longer a realistic option for vulnerable and disadvantaged community members on low incomes

The changes to the Jobseeker payments and the lifting of the moratorium on evictions to private rentals at the end of this month is of major concern to Quantum Support Services.

Rent increases have been ‘on hold’ during COVID 19.  Where previously we would have seen $5-10 increases 6 monthly or yearly, we expect to see much higher rent increases being issued come the beginning of April. Quantum has  already received information from local real estates that these increases are currently being prepared. The difficulty not only lies in being able to support the large numbers of people receiving increases, but also being able to successfully challenge a number of them in the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT) due to the increase being in line with the present rental market.

Cheryl Barnes, Manager of Homelessness and Support states, “Large numbers of ‘Notices to Vacate’ are being issued for rent arrears and a myriad of other reasons.  We expect that Quantum will not have the resources (staff) to respond to all requests coming through to our advocacy and support programs. There will be an expected influx of referrals to come through for both private rental and Public Housing”. Quantum is already seeing an increase of such referrals.

“Private rental properties have remained ‘not affordable’ to people with low incomes – the significant increase in rental prices, in conjunction with high demand and low stock will mean that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of people presenting as ‘experiencing homelessness’”.

“This is not only going to have an impact on our Baw Baw Entry point but also referrals being received by Quantum’s Homelessness Support programs. Private rental is no longer a realistic option for vulnerable and disadvantaged community members on low incomes. Public Housing currently does not have enough throughput to meet the demand of many on the waiting list”.

Cheryl has real concerns that the Homelessness sector is going to continue to undergo major impacts of high demand over the next 12 months and beyond. It is likely that the sector will have limited ability to adequately respond to this demand. This situation is amplified by having limited staff and funding to meet the increased requirement, as well as reduced options for emergency accommodation. It is feared that this situation will have a detrimental direct impact on the ability to practically and effectively assist some people experiencing homelessness that present to the service.