In recognition of International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight some of the very important facts when it comes to housing inequality, housing affordability and homelessness among women in Australia.
According to ABS Census data, in 2012, there were 961 000 one parent families, of which 780 000, or 81%, were single mother families. According to 2016 results, this figure was again higher (84%).
The 2016 figures also showed that, only 14% of single mums had a full-time job when their children were under the age of four, versus 51.2 percent of fathers. Although the gap decreases as the children get older, caring for children and not being able to work as many hours over their lifetime as men, put some serious financial stress on single women when it comes to living expenses.
Decreasing affordability of housing and increasing rents, as well as lower household income potential of single mothers, are definitely some of the major contributors to increased housing stress and homelessness among women. According to the recent research by Grattan Institute, the chance of owning a home for the lower income bracket has now dropped to an all-time low of only 22%.
Decreasing affordability of housing and increasing rents, make single income families particularly vulnerable to homelessness as most of their weekly gross income is spent on housing, whether it is mortgage or rent.
Renting means moving at least every 2 years, which when you’re a parent with school-age children, just adds to the stress.
The recent Brisbane City Council plan to ban smaller and more affordable housing forms such as townhouses is seen by urban planning experts as not only “going backwards” but makes housing the biggest contributor to inequality in Australia over the last 12 years
Cutting out housing choices directly impacts on housing affordability making it even more difficult than ever to accommodate different lifestyles and life situations leaving the privilege of having a place you can call home (whether a house, an apartment or a town house) a luxury only the ‘fortunate’ can afford; whether the fortune came from an inheritance, a ‘better’ start in life or a family situation where two incomes are possible.
When speaking of the ideal of the “Australian dream”, we can no longer be thinking of single dwellings and big backyards. Looking at some of the statistics, the real dream we have to work towards now is accommodating our citizens, and giving everyone a chance to own a place they can call home, no matter what income bracket. Let’s make sure our City is a fair and inclusive city where people who live here want to stay and newcomers are made to feel welcome.