With ongoing lockdowns in Australia, a snapshot survey by Tenants Victoria renewed calls for the government to reintroduce a safety net for renters, including rent relief grants to support renters and landlords and suspending evictions during any COVID-19 lockdowns.
Trevor Hines, a hospitality manager, works full time, but he and his family have just $150 left to live on after paying rent this week. Like many Melburnians, he has no work during the lockdown and his only income is $750 in COVID-19 disaster payments.
Trevor’s wife gave birth to their second child three weeks ago, and says the money is barely enough to cover the weekly $600 rent. "We are left with $150 for a family of four, which isn't a lot, especially as my wife is not earning at the moment," Mr Hines said. "My wife is not entitled to any maternity leave … she had to work a minimum of 300 hours for the year to be eligible, but because we were in lockdown she couldn't." Mr Hines family, like many others are under huge financial stress.
The Hines family story is not unique. Many renters are struggling to pay their rent and they face the very real risk of eviction at a time when, for the sake of our health, we are still being directed to stay at home.
Rent stress impacts many in our communities, our neighbours, our families and our friends, who could be feeling cumulative effects of lockdown.