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Anglicare urges action on regional housing crisis

Giovanni Torre -

Anglicare Australia has called for urgent action to tackle the housing crisis facing regional Australia.

The call comes as Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers is set to address the National Regional Housing Summit on Friday.

"Australia's housing crisis has reached fever pitch. No part of the country has been spared. Rents are shooting up in towns and regions, putting a final nail in the coffin of the myth that regional Australia can offer a reprieve from the cities," Ms Chambers said.

"More and more people are being pushed into serious housing stress. They have to choose between keeping a roof over their head and putting food on the table, paying their bills, or taking their children to the doctor. Anglicare Australia member agencies are seeing more people come to them for help as the housing crisis climbs the income ladder.

"Others are being priced out of their own communities because wages in regional areas aren't enough to pay the rent."

The 2021 Census determined that 24,930 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people were estimated to be experiencing homelessness, representing one in five (20.4 per cent) of people experiencing homelessness nationwide.

Of those 24,930 people, the Census found that 10,784 (42.35 per cent) were living in areas defined as "very remote" - with a rate of 1,439 people per 10,000 Indigenous people in very remote areas (14.39 per cent) suffering homelessness.

The 2021 Census also found that in "remote" - rather than "very remote" - areas, more than seven per cent of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people were experiencing homelessness (705 per 10,000 people), and that the Indigenous homelessness rate in remote areas had risen (up from 623 per 10,000) since 2016.

Ms Chambers said the best way to tackle regional Australia's housing crisis is to build social housing.

"The private market is failing regional Australia. Even though Australia has built a record number of homes over the last ten years, costs keep soaring and regional areas continue to miss out," she said.

"The best way to make homes more affordable is to build social housing. Building general homes just isn't working – affordability does not trickle down, and the homes do not always get built in the right places.

"Our social housing shortfall has now ballooned to 640,000 social homes across Australia. Ending this shortfall will help people in the most severe rental stress, free up the cheapest rentals for everybody else, and provide vital community infrastructure and workforce for regional areas.

"If we do not tackle this shortfall, we do not stand a chance of ending the housing crisis."

The Anglicare Australia head said the organisation is calling on governments to end the social housing shortfall – "and make sure everyone has a place to call home".

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