According to Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot 2022 released last week, only 1.6% of private rental properties in Australia are affordable for minimum wage earners. Without major housing policy changes, the rental situation will continue to deteriorate. A big boost to affordable housing is needed, with at least another 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia.
Sophia* is a single mum in her 30s with a son in primary school. Due to domestic violence, she was forced to flee her home with her young child four years ago. Like many women escaping domestic violence, Sophia struggled to get by financially.
Although Sophia works in childcare, she said she can only work part time because she has no other support with caring for her son.
“I’ve always worked but caring for my child alone on a part time income meant I never seemed to be able to make or save enough money.”
For about three years Sophia and her son bounced around from place to place. They battled to find rental accommodation that was affordable, safe and stable. They eventually ended up at a refuge in the inner west of Sydney for women with children who have experienced family violence.
Sophia had never heard of affordable housing until she was referred by a case worker to City West Housing. Earlier this year City West offered her a 2-bedroom apartment in the inner city.
Knowing that her rent would never be more than 30% of her gross income, Sophia said this would allow her to focus on more than just getting by.
“Our living arrangements now are so different. We are so happy City West has offered us our own space, and we love it! My son, who was once withdrawn, is now thriving in school and at home.”
When asked what the word ‘home’ means to her, Sophia replied, “Home to me is a safe space for you and your loved ones. I think every young person deserves a home like that, and I can’t thank City West enough for helping give that to my child.”
Sophia said that having access to affordable housing has eased the pressure on her financially, enabling her to go back to study. Her goal for the future is to finish her bachelor’s degree and have the opportunity to work in a job she loves.
* Real name withheld to protect privacy.
Read more City West Housing resident stories.