Rental properties in Dubbo are growing increasingly unaffordable for the average household, the latest affordability data reveals.
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According to the latest Rental Affordability Index (RAI) report, released on Tuesday, November 14, the average rental property in Dubbo is "moderately unaffordable" for the average Dubbo household.
And for Dubbo locals living on a pension or on benefits the affordability picture becomes more bleak.
For a single person living on benefits Dubbo rental prices are "extremely unaffordable", for single pensioners and part-time workers "severely unaffordable" and for pensioner couples "unaffordable".
Dubbo is faring slightly better than Mudgee where rental prices are deemed "unaffordable" for the average household and is on par with Orange and Bathurst which were also classified as "moderately unaffordable".
The most affordable rentals in the central west can be found in Nyngan which rates as "very affordable" and Warren and Gilgandra which classify as "affordable".
The RAI, created by SGS Economics and Planning, tracks rental prices in cities across Australia against household income. A rental is considered "unaffordable" if it costs more than 30 per-cent of a household's gross income.
Across all household structures, affordability scores have fallen for Dubbo.
In 2022, rental affordability was rated 120 for the average Dubbo household, compared to 114 in 2023. Even for dual income families affordability has fallen from 292 in 2022 to 282 in 2023.
John Engeler, CEO of Shelter NSW, said the data reveals regional areas like Dubbo are no longer the bastions of affordable housing they were once considered.
"For too long, the regions have been viewed with misty eyes as an affordable option for Sydneysiders to retreat to when rents got too high in the city," he said.
"This is not the case, not for newcomers and certainly not for locals living on local industry wages. Since the pandemic, a growing proportion of renters are forced to dedicate more than 30 per cent of their income to rent in the regions.
"This is not a sustainable situation, it's a social emergency."
According to the report, regional NSW housing is less affordable now than at any point in the last decade.
The average rental household in regional NSW has a gross annual income of $84,651 per annum. If renting at the median rate, that household faces paying 29 percent of its total income to rent.
For a single person relying on JobSeeker, the average regional NSW rental is now "extremely unaffordable", comprising 71 per cent of income.
Ellen Witte, principal at SGS, said the rental affordability crisis had repercussions for regional towns' economies too. She is calling on the government to urgently act.
"This downward spiral has now reached the point where very few affordable long-term rentals are on offer," she said.
"Unaffordability has spread from employment centres and households have to live further away from where the jobs are to access affordable rents, and businesses are struggling to find workers.
"We need to attack this problem from multiple angles. This means rapidly expanding social and affordable housing, rethinking how we use tax subsidies, and strengthening renters' rights."
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