Families living in remote Northern Territory communities could soon be forced to choose between keeping the lights on, putting food on the table or paying rent, an Aboriginal housing organisation has warned.
The Northern Territory government is pushing ahead with changes to the rental framework which advocates say will see up to 68 per cent of public housing tenants facing a rent rise.
The changes, which were initially delayed after facing a backlash from land council, would see tenants charged rent based on the number of bedrooms in a house rather than according to their incomes.
Aboriginal Housing NT CEO Skye Thompson says the changes will only put more pressure on families in Central Australia.
“Fuel has doubled in the NT over the last five years. A basket of food in a remote community is 52 per cent higher than what you would buy in a regional town. We’re going to have families that are going to have to choose between putting food on the table to having electricity to then paying rent.”
Ms Thompson says the changes could also have a knock-on effect as families leave unaffordable housing for larger regional centres, such as Alice Springs and Darwin.
“That’s the concern, that it’s going to increase those issues that are in the main centres, and that there will be more overcrowding. We need to be investing in remote communities so that people can live comfortable in their communities.”