‘Severe’ rent crunch


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Casey rentals are at their most unaffordable since 2015 – severely so for pensioner couples, according to newly released statistics.

The Rental Affordability Index depicts a “fundamentally broken” rental market across Melbourne.

For pensioner couples, rental prices are rated as “severely unaffordable” across Casey – scoring as low as 71 in Berwick, 78 in Narre Warren, 79 in Cranbourne and 80 in Hampton Park.

A score of 101-120 is considered “moderately unaffordable”, 121-150 as “acceptable” and over 150 as “affordable”.

Meanwhile for minimum wage couples, rental affordability is deteriorating to “moderately unaffordable” in Berwick while still “acceptable” in other Casey suburbs.

The Rental Affordability Index is an analysis undertaken by National Shelter and SGS Economics and Planning.

National Shelter chief executive Emma Greenhalgh said low-income people were being priced out of “entire swathes” of Melbourne.

“The rental market is fundamentally broken.

“Melbourne’s rental market is in a crisis and it’s only getting worse. This disproportionately punishes people with the least.”

Overall, Berwick ranks the lowest for affordability with an “acceptable” index score of 127 (down 8 per cent from two years ago), followed by Cranbourne (132, down 17 per cent), Narre Warren (134, down 7 per cent) and Hampton Park (148, down 7 per cent).

The suburbs are all rated less than “affordable”, based on Greater Melbourne median gross household incomes of $108,955.

Soaring rents are starkly shown in the State Government’s June Rental Report.

For low-income earners, there were only two “affordable” two-bedroom rentals available in the entire Casey council area, two in Cardinia Shire and 23 in Greater Dandenong.

There was just one single-bedroom rental rated as “affordable” in Casey, one in Greater Dandenong and zero in Cardinia Shire.

Median rents for two-bedroom flats in Berwick soared $40 a week in the past year to $400 and two-bedroom houses up $63 a week to $423.

In Cranbourne, two-bedroom flats were up $25 a week to $365, and houses up $40 a week to $400.

In Narre Warren-Hampton Park, two-bedroom flats were up $30 a week to $380 and houses up $32 a week to $400.

In Pakenham, two-bedroom flats rose $30 a week to $360 and houses were up $50 a week to $390.

In September, the State Government launched its Housing Statement which sets a target of 800,000 new homes over the next decade with affordable housing quotas and fast-tracked planning approvals.

“More housing supply means lower prices,” the then-Premier Daniel Andrews said at the time.

Under the Government’s Big Housing Build launched in 2020, 76 social housing dwellings have been built in Casey with 70 underway.

Opposition housing spokesperson Richard Riordan said the project had been a “big let down”.

Just 394 extra public housing dwellings had been built since 2018 at the cost of $5.3 billion – despite a pledge of 12,000 homes by 2024, he said.

“These numbers also make a mockery of the Premier (Jacinta Allan’s) claim that she will build 800,000 new homes over the next decade.”

Recently, homelessness support service Wayss said the South East growth corridor had been “neglected” – with its proportion of public and community housing well below the average of Greater Melbourne.

Ahead of the 2022 state election, City of Casey called for an “urgent investment” to stem the significant and growing shortfall of 6000 affordable and social housing dwellings.