Focus on housing stress in the NT

The NT’s critical lack of affordable housing and possible solutions will be the focus of local National Homelessness Week activities.

Peak housing advocacy body NT Shelter and member organisations will be highlighting the stresses of low income earners trying to pay the rent in the NT.

NT Shelter executive officer Peter McMillan said this week would also be about exploring strategies that could alleviate the housing stress felt by hundreds of Territorians.

“The Northern Territory has unfortunately the highest rates of homelessness in the nation and one of the most critical shortages of affordable housing,” Mr McMillan said.

“While the NT Government has implemented some policies and programs to help address the shortage, frankly they don’t come within a bull’s roar of meeting the need, either in our main cities and towns or remote communities.

“We’ve got a broken public housing system, with many families expected to wait years to access a property.

“And while there’s been a drop in median private rental prices, this hasn’t necessarily made it more accessible or affordable for low income earners.”

Over the last 5 years 3-bedroom house rent prices in the Darwin North Coastal area have fallen from $828 per week to $645 per week.

In Alice Springs, 4-bedroom house rent prices have dropped from $710 to $675 per week in the last 5 years – but these prices are still very high in a national comparison and are prone to fluctuation.

“Even with the decline in rents, and the property industry saying there has been a drop in sales and house prices, there is a huge gap between the type of private housing available and what is needed.

“For many low income families, they are facing having to pay more than 30% of their income on rent, placing them in rental stress.

“We need a national housing strategy, a coordinated, whole of government approach, to address our affordable housing deficit.

“The ideas and strategies to achieving this, and how we can generate more affordable housing, will be the focus of a forum hosted by NT Shelter on Thursday in Darwin.

“National and local housing experts will share their views and expertise and everyone is invited to join the discussion.”