City Futures Research Centre Arts, Design and Architecture

Poverty after Housing Costs

The focus of this research project, undertaken in partnership with the Australian Council of Social Service and the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre as part of the five-year ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Program, will be in the development and analysis of a measure of Poverty after Housing Costs (PAHC) for the whole of Australia.  While traditional measures of housing affordability have largely relied on cost to income ratios or measures of mortgage affordability or rental stress, this approach allows a focus on poverty as the key issue.  It also deals with the issue of the absolute amount of money left to a household once basic housing costs (rent or mortgage) are met, thereby exposing the real position that low income households face in terms of the real trade-off between paying for housing and covering the basic costs of living. 

The research focuses on developing a PAHC measure that captures the reality of disposable income once housing costs are subtracted through a micro-simulation approach that provides estimates of this figure at the SA2 (suburb) geography across Australia.  The analyses is derived from the ABS Survey of Income and Housing and ABS Census datasets for various years.  The analysis includes a detailed geography of poverty after housing costs by major housing tenure.  As well, a descriptive estimate of changes in overall PAHC is generated at the national and regional level for the 1995-96, 2005-06 and 2015-16. 

The measure further develops the analyses reported in the ACOSS Poverty in Australia 2018 report (Davidson et al. 2018) by investigating in detail the impacts of housing affordability on households by presenting a different, more nuanced examination of the effects of housing unaffordability and stagnant income growth compared to conventional housing affordability measures.  As such, it  further enhances previous aggregate-level work to identify those areas and groups of the population experiencing real economic hardship as a result of the intersection of between income and housing costs.  The reports concludes by drawing out the implications of the results for possible housing and other policy reforms. 

The results are published in an interactive map format on the CityViz website.


Leading organisation

University of New South Wales

Funded by

UNSW-ACOSS Poverty and Inequality Partnership

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