Youth on welfare 'pushed' into homelessness - triSearch

Youth on welfare ‘pushed’ into homelessness

By Rachael Ward

Many teens receiving welfare are ending up homeless as they continue to spend more than three quarters of their income on rent, a report has found.

Teenagers who rely on welfare to pay rent are being pushed towards homelessness and the situation is worse now than a year ago.

Analysis from Homelessness Australia has found people aged 16 and 17 continue to pay more than three quarters of their income on rent.

Young tenants in Brisbane are in a worse situation now than 12 months ago as they have to dedicate 83 per cent of their income toward housing, up from 76 per cent in March 2023.

Perth’s youth have also fallen behind, paying 76 per cent of income which is two per cent higher than last year.

The percentage of income young tenants spend on rent has remained high elsewhere, but the situation is improving slowly.

The portion of income spent on rent is 94 per cent in Sydney, 73 per cent in Melbourne, 77 per cent in Canberra, 63 per cent in Darwin, 60 per cent in Hobart and 59 per cent in Adelaide.

Homelessness Australia cross-referenced payments against rental prices for a two bedroom unit in major metropolitan areas to come up with the results.

Chief executive Kate Colvin said young renters were lower down the pecking order when seeking housing because they received less income support.

“Our policy choices actively conspire to push young people towards homelessness,” she said.

“Right when they need stability to take their first steps in employment or further education they are pushed into poverty, resulting in social exclusion, mental illness and lost lifetime productivity.

“The costs and consequences of our warped housing system will only escalate for young people and the broader society, unless we make better choices.”

The statistics took into account a boost to welfare payments, including Youth Allowance.

The federal government raised the payment by $40 a fortnight plus indexation from July 1, 2023, while Commonwealth Rent Assistance increased by 15 per cent on top of indexation.

Homelessness Australia is pushing for a further boost to Youth Allowance and Commonwealth Rent Assistance in the upcoming federal budget, which other advocacy organisations have also flagged as a priority.

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