I believe every person in Australia should have access to safe and secure housing. It’s integral to maintaining good health and feeling part of a community.
A shortage of affordable housing and high rents (highest in 15 years) means low-income people are increasingly vulnerable to homelessness. Single parent families, in particular, spend the most on housing as a percentage of their weekly gross income.
Did you know …
"Single parents paid hours fell more than 30% in the depths of the crisis in April. By December, even though there were no significant restrictions in place anywhere in Australia, paid hours for single parents remained 10% lower than they had been a year earlier.
Employment for single parents fell more than 10% between December 2019 and September 2020 and is still 5% lower than in December 2019. About 50,000 single parents dropped out of the workforce altogether during the first lockdown – 11% of all single parents in Australia."
These stats show that it is time for strategic thinking and looking outside the square regarding your housing options as a single parent.
Thinking outside the square doesn’t just encompass the different options of housing you could choose, which I will go into depth later on, but also how you apply for the accommodation.
Because it is not a level playing field when it comes to things like rentals, loans, availability, and even support when compared with other coupled parents.
Competing in the rental market as a single parent can be pretty deflating. Numerous people turn up each time. As single mothers, we rely mainly on single parent pensions from Centrelink, sometimes some PAYG work or self-employment income. In most cases, child support is non-existent. Our finances, more often than not, look terrible. Add to that some of us don’t start off with rental history. Combine all that and we look like pretty bad applicants on paper when going up against families or double-income no kid couples.
It’s often difficult for us to get to open homes because we are juggling so many things and getting the paperwork completed can be very daunting and time-consuming. With many of us unable to rely on support from others, it’s a battle we do all so often when it comes to the private rental market.
We don’t have it easy, that’s for sure.
But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are ways for single parents to find affordable housing options in Australia and ways to get them that aren’t such a headache.
The private rental
No, it’s not a myth. There are still some affordable and accessible private rentals around, depending on where you look.
I recommend a few different things here.
Firstly, expand your search radius. Look 15 – 20kms minutes further away. People always pay a premium for closer-located housing. However, if you have a car and can commit to getting up 20 minutes earlier, you will likely find a less competitive rental and something cheaper than the housing close to everything.
And when it comes to writing that application, there are a few ways to get yours noticed above other applicants. Make sure you get the rental application before you go to the inspection so you have it ready to give at the inspection. Include a letter to the landlord in the application that outlines why you would be a good tenant and follow up a few days later. Always ask why if you did not get it.
Ensure you keep copies of everything that’s needed to go into an application because you will need it again. This is a great time-saving hack to prevent a constant scramble whenever you want to apply for a private rental.
Sharing a house
When it comes to considering single parent housing options in Australia, sharing a house is worth considering.
This can happen in two ways.
Either someone offers a room in their house plus common space for a reduced price, or two people (sometimes more) team up to find a rental together.
This is a great way to reduce costs, such as:
- Initial bond
- Ongoing rental expenses
- Household expenses
It can allow you to live in a bigger house in a better neighbourhood. Plus, it’s likely you won’t all need to apply for the rental, so it saves time and energy on the formal application process and getting references.
In my experience, if your home has enough space, you do your due diligence and ensure you have good boundaries and good communication, home sharing is an excellent choice. It does more than help your financial capabilities and housing options. Sharing a home can help with your social isolation and emotional well-being. We all need a support network after all.
State and Federal governments across Australia provide some housing that is commonly referred to as government housing or public housing.
These are usually 1,2 or 3 bedrooms and are provided in order of need or what is called priority.
The conditions are different for every State, but generally, you may apply if you:
- Do not exceed the income and asset eligibility limits
- Do not own or part own a house, unit or flat
- Do have Australian citizenship or permanent residency status
- Do not owe money from a previous public housing tenancy or Bond loan
To apply you need to fill out the General Public Housing Application form. Just google that for your state.
The wait can be quite long, sometimes years, so you need to think ahead if this is something you can do.
Apply now for the future and look at the other options here for the immediate need for housing.
Community or social housing is a secure and affordable long-term rental managed by a not-for-profit organisation, specifically for low-income people with special needs or escaping domestic and family violence with children.
It isn’t easy to get into as there is not a vast amount available.
The best way to find out is to search Social Housing within your state and see what organisations come up. You can then apply directly.
It might seem strange to mention this but if you are a single parent with money from a divorce settlement or have been saving, you could look at purchasing your own little place.
I would recommend looking at the following:
- First Home Owners Grant: This is great for saving on a down payment, if you haven’t previously owned a property in your name.
- Family Home Guarantee: This brand-new scheme is especially to help single parents after separation. It allows the purchase of a home with as little as a 2% deposit!
Further reading: Updated info on the Family Home Guarantee.
Temporary accommodation provides a vital lifeline for individuals and families facing urgent housing needs, many of whom are single mothers. This accommodation offers a safe and secure place to stay during challenging times like homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or experiencing a sudden housing crisis.
Various organisations, community groups, and government agencies work together to provide temporary accommodation options. These include emergency shelters, crisis centres, transitional housing, and supported accommodation services. The aim is not only to offer a roof over one’s head but also to provide essential support services, such as counselling, food assistance, and referrals to other relevant resources.
Temporary accommodation plays a crucial role in helping individuals and families stabilise their situations and plan for more permanent housing solutions. It offers a lifeline during difficult times and empowers those in need to access necessary support while they work towards achieving stability and self-sufficiency.
Final words about single parent housing options Australia
At the end of the day, housing is expensive and often competitive to get into.
For this reason, single parents must get creative for the opportunity to settle in a secure home.
Find a solution to make life easier and less stressful without constantly struggling to keep an expensive rental. Don’t live a life where you are always stressed, overworked, and have little time for other things, including your kids.
Hopefully my suggestions single parent housing will help you find another way.