Young renters tighten belts

Students have been left with difficult decisions to make amidst a rental and cost of living crisis.

Growing numbers of struggling renters has seen calls for youth allowances to increase. Photo: Ben Chapman
Calls for increased youth support payments come after average rent prices have increased. Photo: Ben Chapman.

A new report by Homelessness Australia suggests renters on youth income support are spending 73 per cent of their weekly salary paying rent.   

The peak body led a two-year long investigation to analyse and compare the rent price of a two-bedroom apartment, and the income-support payments for young people living away from home.

The report highlights the growing struggles university students face as the cost of living and rental prices inflate.

University student Travis O’shea is feeling the impact of rising costs. Photo: Ben Chapman.

Travis O’Shea is part way through an engineering degree at the University of Western Australia. He moved from WA’s South West to study and rents a shared property in metropolitan Perth.

For university students like Travis, increased rental and cost of living pressures have meant he’s had to take on extra work to cover his weekly rent.

“When I’m having to work, there’s always that extra pressure,” he says.

“I’ve never had to work during uni but now I need to do it just to pay my rent.”

Hear more from Travis O’Shea.

The study also found that youth support incomes such as youth allowance and Commonwealth rental payments have only increased by 10 per cent in the last 2 years, compared to a 24 percent increase in an average two-bedroom flat price.

When Travis first moved into his apartment over 4 years ago, his rent was $165 per week.

He now faces a bill for more than $200 per week which has seen him have to miss out on basic needs and wants, such as travelling plans this year.

Travis explains the flow on affect of cost of living pressures.

Data from Homelessness Australia found that after paying rent, someone on youth income support had roughly $13 per day left to cover basic needs.

Homelessness Australia chief executive officer Kate Colvin says it is a “ridiculous” expectation given the inflationary costs associated with food transport, medicine, power and other costs.

“We urgently need to lift Youth Allowance and Commonwealth Rent Assistance so young people have the income they need to avoid homelessness.”