A social support organisation wants higher income support payments made permanent, finding it would significantly increase the number of affordable rentals in the Bendigo area.
Anglicare Victoria's latest Rental Affordability Snapshot found 10 of the 242 properties listed for rent in Greater Bendigo on March 21 were affordable - cost less than 30 per cent of income - and appropriate for people on the regular rates of government income support payments.
However, the number of affordable properties would have jumped to 90 with the temporary fortnightly supplement of $550 that was introduced in response to coronavirus.
That is an increase from four per cent of available properties to 37 per cent.
The coronavirus supplement started this week and goes to those receiving JobSeeker, partner allowance, widow allowance, sickness allowance, youth allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY living allowance, parenting payment, farm household allowance or special benefit. It is available for six months.
Anglicare's rental survey revealed there were no affordable, appropriate properties available to rent in the Greater Bendigo area for a single person receiving JobSeeker or Youth Allowance.
Had the supplement been available, there would have been three. This still represents just 1.2 per cent of all rental properties that were on the market.
For a couple on JobSeeker with two children, the number of properties available to them would have jumped from three to 81.
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Meanwhile, a single parent with two children on the parenting payment would have had two affordable properties open to rent on the original payment, but 14 with the supplement.
The survey found 116 properties were affordable and appropriate for those on minimum wage, although only six were suitable for a single person receiving minimum wage
The results of last month's survey suggest the availability of affordable housing has worsened: last year, six per cent of properties were suitable for those on income support, compared to four per cent (before the supplement) this year.
Anglicare Victoria chief executive officer Paul McDonald said there had been little change to benefit those on low incomes in the past 10 years.
"Both state and federal governments could alleviate some stress for people doing it tough with a couple of simple changes," Mr McDonald said. He said the rate rise had to be made permanent and available to everyone on income support.
Other strategies to improve rental affordability were also essential, he said.
"Tough times are ahead post-coronavirus, and we must ensure our most vulnerable aren't hit the hardest," Mr McDonald said.