- The Guardian
- Issue #2050
Many people are struggling to put a roof over their head for an affordable price. Current legislation at both state and federal level allows for and encourages the commodification of housing and incentivises dishonesty. Many landlords take advantage of high competition in the private rental market, and renters struggle to keep up. Among renters most adversely affected are women and in particular, older women.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) released a brief in March on International Women’s Day, outlining the impacts of the housing crisis for women. Women are less likely to be able to save for a deposit on a home and if they are able to, will most likely take longer than men. This means they are less likely to own a home which is a key support during retirement. Due to women paying off their mortgage at a later age, this increases stress in older women and leads to negative health outcomes.
If older women are unable to buy a house or cannot keep up with increasing rent prices, they become increasingly at risk of homelessness. Women of all ages fleeing violence are most vulnerable to homelessness. With lack of government funding towards support for those facing these circumstances, older women are the fastest growing group of homeless.
Women are also more likely to be raising a child alone. There has been a 12 per cent increase in single parent families since 2021, and mothers make up 80 per cent of this group.
If women do have a roof over their head, conditions are often poor and can even pose threats to health. Many parents worry about mould in rentals, or live under the constant fear of rent increases. Where state governments are behind on renters’ rights in legislation, many don’t feel able to ask for properties to be cleaned or repaired for fear of eviction.
In NSW, the Minns government committed to ending “no-grounds” evictions but has not moved to legislate it at the time of writing. The NSW Tribunal also puts the onus on renters to show a rent increase is unreasonable, making it hard to fight against them. In some cases, a renter may even win a challenge but may still be evicted under “no-grounds” evictions legislation in retaliation. Landlords are also evicting tenants for no reason than to simply put a property back on the market at a higher rate because of current high demand and low supply of housing. There are long wait lists for public housing, and few are being maintained to proper standards.
Suffice it to say, it’s understandable single mothers struggle to stand up to landlords under the current system. Socialism provides the opportunity to solve these problems by ending the need for landlords through the provision of universal public housing for all workers. In addition, universal and properly funded early childhood education and care, healthcare, schooling, and social services would support families and give a broad and comprehensive safety net to women and single mothers.