COVID doubles Aussies dealing with housing stress

by Madison Utley01 Jul 2020

New data has revealed the percentage of Australians who couldn’t pay their rent or mortgage on time has more than doubled since the COVID pandemic began.

The survey from the Australian National University (ANU) across 3,200 people showed the proportion of Australians not able to meet their regular housing costs jumped from 6.9% in April to 15.1% in May.

The policies introduced by government and banks to help protect renters and mortgage holders during the tumultuous last few months were also examined in the study.

“These policies are helping with 22.2% of mortgage holders being successful to reduce or freeze their mortgage payments,” said study co-author Professor Matthew Gray. 

“Just over one-in-ten renters have been able to reduce or freeze their payments," he added. 

The figures told a worse story for young Australians, however. The number of those aged 18 to 24 who experienced higher levels of housing stress increased threefold between April and May – from 10.3% to 27.5%. 

“What’s also worrying is that young adults are experiencing very high rates of housing stress, with 44% of people aged 18 to 24 years unable to pay their rent on time,” said Professor Gray. 

“Young Australians are still more likely to be in housing stress once income and socioeconomic status is controlled for, suggesting that there is more to housing stress than just income for this group. This is because their accumulated savings and wealth are likely to be low.”

For Australians aged 35 to 44, there was an almost threefold increase in housing stress, with the proportion rising from 5.9% to 19.1%.