Selasa, 31 Agustus 2010

Social Housing Month

Long-time readers will remember that September is Social Housing Month on the Brown Couch, and this year we start off with an update on a story that was in the news last time: social housing rent increases.

(Senior Client Service Officer, Vladimir Dracula)

Housing NSW is about to do one of its regular reviews of tenants' incomes, and this time round it has got its eyes on that $30 per week increase in the pension that the Federal Government bestowed last year. At that time, after a campaign by pensioners and some indications by the Federal Treasurer of strong annoyance at the prospect of State Governments getting their hands on a slice of the largesse, the $30 was quarantined from inclusion in the assessment of households' incomes for the purposes of calculating rent subsidies.

But not anymore. So, from next month, a quarter of that $30, plus a couple of cost-of-living increases on top of it, will go to Housing NSW in rent – an additional $9 per week or so, for a single pensioner.

Ah well. It is easy to give Housing NSW a hard time about this, but we should spare a thought for pensioners in private rental housing. On my back-of-an-envelope calculation (based on a 'low-income' median rent in the September 09 quarter of $248 per week, and the rents component of the CPI increasing 3.1 per cent in the nine months since then), these renters' landlords have already taken their quarter of the $30 increase.

In 2007-08 there were about 117 000 private renter households across Australia whose income came solely from government payments, and who were paying more than 30 per cent of their incomes in rent. Forty-two thousand of them were paying more than 50 per cent.

UPDATE 22/9/10: Public housing pensioners, hang on to your pocketbooks. The Brown Couch's colleagues at the Older Persons Tenants Service have received advice from Housing NSW that the NSW State Government is reconsidering whether it will include the $30 increase in rent rebate calculations. They'll let us know what the Government decides.

Pensioners and others in private rental, keep shelling out as usual.