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Queensland man lives in roadside tent as regional areas


Aussies are being forced into desperate living situations – like living in a roadside tent – as the country’s housing crisis spirals further out of control, according to a new report.

Queensland man, David, is one of many people forced to sleep rough after they were squeezed out of the ever-tightening property market.

He has been living in a small, leaky tent on the side of a Brisbane motorway for two months, after moving to the city from regional Queensland in search of work and a roof to put over his head.

David told 9News that he “never thought” he would be forced into this situation but said although it is “harder” than having a home, “it is somewhere safe”.

His story comes after damning new data from National Shelter and SGS Economics and Planning that shows property affordability has plummeted across Australia in the last 12 months.

Every capital city, except Canberra and Hobart, is less affordable than it was a year ago – and renters are worse off than they were in 2019 – according to the latest Rental Affordability Index.

At the same time, regional Queensland is now the least affordable place in Australia to rent, the Index shows, with renters spending 30 per cent of their income on rent – the standard threshold for rental stress.

Yet, even as the “rest of Queensland” fell into a national low, NSW rentals had the sharpest decline in affordability, with Greater Sydney winning the title of least affordable capital city in the country. Greater Hobart followed closely behind, Greater Brisbane came in third place.

Only Melbourne and the ACT have acceptable rents for average-income households –

The latest Index is calculated using average incomes and the median rent price until June 2023.

In short, the data showed there were far fewer affordable areas for renters to move into if and when they are eventually squeezed out of the market area.

And, more than that, it revealed how much worse the situation is for Australian renters on lower incomes – who are often spending most, if not all, of their earnings on rent.

For example, a single person on Jobseeker will spend all of their income on renting a one bedroom apartment in a capital city – unless they live in Hobart of Perth, where they would spend 78 and 80 per cent, respectively.

That same person, renting in a regional area, would spend at least 53 per cent of their income on rent.

Single pensioners face spending more than 60 per cent of their income to rent a one-bedroom apartment – only Hobart and Adelaide are marginally cheaper, 47 and 48 per cent, respectively.

The best-off renting households were dual-income-earners, parents, per the Index, who would find the currenty rental market “Affordable” to “Very Affordable” and spend about 14 per cent of their income on rent.

National Shelter chief executive Emma Greenhalgh told The Courier Mail she was particularly concerned about the deterioriating affordability in regional Queensland.

She said affordability was “going from bad to even worse” in the Sunshine State.

“Almost nowhere is safe from declining affordability, with most suburbs falling either one to two affordability categories,” Ms Greenhalgh said.

“Governments must urgently address this worsening affordability crisis, including by building more social and affordable homes and better regulating renting.”

She said it was “deeply troubling” to see the average Queensland renter had to put themselves into rental stress “just to keep a roof over their head”.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.