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House prices a nightmare – no longer the Australian dream for low paid workers

10 November 2021

Low and middle-income earners risk permanent exclusion from the housing market as a result of the warp speed increases in home prices induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer reminded the House of Representatives housing inquiry on Wednesday that wage increases had not kept pace with housing price rises and the housing market was marching away from lower paid workers.

The predicament of the tens of thousands of retail workers in regional Australia is even worse with regional property prices leaping by 24.8 percent in NSW, 20.3 percent in Victoria and 20.16 percent in Queensland.

Fully 64 percent of regional renters surveyed for the SDA/Essential Media State of the Regions report cited high rental and housing prices as a main concern for the future health and liveability of their local area.

More first homeowner schemes and raids on superannuation accounts are not the answer – the former raises the floor on house prices, the latter severely erodes the ability of lower paid workers to fund their retirement.

A new National Affordable Housing Agency is required to ensure secure and affordable housing, ownership and rental, for all Australians.

Build to rent and build to rent to buy must become central to national housing policy if current trends to unaffordability and insecurity are to be reversed.

Quotes from Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary the SDA the union for retail, fast food, warehouse and online retail workers:

“Housing is a nation building project and every Australian has a vested interest in ensuring it is provided on secure and affordable terms, be that as an owner or a renter, to underpin the nation’s social, economic, physical and mental health.

“Australia was one of the great home owning societies, but home ownership has been falling for the past 30 years and this will continue unless policy solutions are found.

“With the median house price in Sydney now 15 times average fulltime wages, compared with five times in 1981, housing affordability for workers on low wages is a constant struggle, a fact made more stark given the wage for a fulltime retail worker is $44 thousand, less than half the average fulltime wage.

“This is now a regional problem, too. The significant proportion of SDA members who reside in regional Australia are now having to deal with the pressure of a housing market that is marching away from lower paid workers.”