Housing Vulnerability Under Pandemic Conditions

The Victorian Government recently announced a rental relief package to support tenants who are “experiencing rental hardship due to COVID-19” (Department of Health and Human Services, 2020). Eligible renters who are unable to afford rent, can access a one-off payment of up to $2000, with the aim of avoiding evictions during the current state of emergency.

Eligibility criteria for rental relief grants include that an applicant will have less than $5,000 in savings, be paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent and have a household income of less than $1,903 per week (Department of Health and Human Services, 2020).

By using aggregated datasets that are readily available through the AURIN Portal, we were able to identify regions that are expected to have the greatest demand for rent relief funding. The datasets used for this analysis are:

  • We used ABS – Data by Region – Family & Community (SA2) 2011-2016 – Population that was unable to raise $2000 emergency money within a week (map A) as a proxy measure of households with less than $5000 in savings; and
  • NATSEM – Financial Indicators – Synthetic Estimates SA2 2016 – Housing Stress. Households where rent is equal to or greater than 30% of the household income (map B)

Both datasets can be accessed and mapped through the AURIN Portal and the AURIN Data Catalogue 

Thematic maps of each dataset were created separately to visually explore the SA2 areas of Greater Melbourne that are most susceptible to financial and housing stress (maps A and B) and then overlapped into a bivariate map (map C) to identify those areas where government support through rent relief would most likely be needed.

Map A – ABS – Data by Region – Family & Community (SA2) 2011-2016 – Population that was unable to raise emergency money ($2000 in a week)

Map B – NATSEM – Financial Indicators – Synthetic Estimates SA2 2016 – Housing Stress (rent >= 30% of household income)

Map C – Bivariate Map (Inability to access emergency money PLUS high housing stress)

This analysis revealed several SA2 regions in Greater Melbourne in which a large proportion of households are unable to access emergency funds and experience high rental stress. These regions, (listed on the righthand side of Map C) are expected to have the greatest demand for rent relief grants.

Housing vulnerability has been a critical issue during COVID-19 restrictions and will continue to be a major issue during the economic fallout post-COVID-19. The AURIN Portal enables in-depth analysis of housing vulnerability across Australia by providing access to data such as labour force status (i.e. unemployment, reduced work hours), housing stress by rent and mortgage, tenure type, family income, property data etc., all available at the AURIN Portal.

How can we help you with your research? Is your research related to housing vulnerability or COVID-19 related impacts? Please get in touch, email support@aurin.org.au

Data Sources:

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia – Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2019): ABS – Data by Region – Family & Community (SA2) 2011-2016; accessed from AURIN on 2020-04-16.

University of Canberra – National Centre of Social and Economic Modelling, (2018): NATSEM – Financial Indicators – Synthetic Estimates SA2 2016; accessed from AURIN on 2020-04-16.

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This article was written by:

Su-Lin Lim
Outreach Manager

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