Low-to-middle income households in booming property markets are growing increasingly anxious about their future.

Marketing professional Fran is a single mother living in Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

For the past 13 years, following a divorce, she’s been bouncing between rental accommodation with her kids, trying to save up a deposit for a home.

“I’ve had to rent so many different homes at such high prices, with all my children, and it’s been depressing,” Fran said.

She’s recently bought a single bedroom unit, with the help of the federal government’s two per cent home guarantee scheme.

“For about 11 years I didn’t think I’d ever get back into the market.”

“It was extremely difficult.

“So [including stamp duty] I had to save $50,000 as a single mum to get back into the market.”

Fran said it’s nearly impossible for children to get onto the property ladder with assistance from their parents.(Supplied)

Family ties

She says owning property means “everything” to her.

“It’s actually quite liberating.

“It was a cloud that hung over me for the last 13 years.

“I just happened to get divorced during the Global Financial Crisis, and lost my home, it sold at the value I purchased it seven years prior.”

Fran wants to help her children onto the property ladder but can’t afford it.

“How do your young children, even if they come together as a couple, do it without the help of a relative?

“The ‘bank of mum and dad’ won’t exist for my children,” she said.

Community concerns

Federal member for Mackellar, Sophie Scamps, has been canvassing her constituents across the Northern Beaches for their views on the housing crisis.

Ms Scamps recently asked a year 11 legal studies class what their main concerns about the future were.

“They’re deeply concerned about having to move out of the area, not being able to afford to buy a place in the area.”

Sophie Scamps’ electorate has made it clear they’re anxious about the impact unaffordable housing is having on their families.(ABC News: Floss Adams)

The Northern Beaches is becoming unaffordable for essential services workers, according to Ms Scamps.

“There was a dental clinic that had to close down.

“We also had a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic that also had to shut down because they were finding it so difficult to get staff.

“And we also hear that the Northern Beaches Hospital, a lot of those nurses have to come from long distances away,” Ms Scamps told the ABC.

Clear calls

After receiving over 1,000 responses from a local survey, asking people to share their personal experiences of renting or buying on the Northern Beaches on the housing crisis, Ms Scamps is hosting a community forum today in search of solutions.

Director of the progressive think tank The Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, will attend to help generate discussion.

“What we want to have is parliamentarians that listen to their community and who are brave enough to say to the community, ‘you know, look, this is a hard issue, there is no simple solution, let’s have a chat about it’.”

Richard Denniss said housing boards could help maintain homes for essential workers in areas where property was unaffordable. (ABC News: Geoff Kemp)

Mr Denniss said many communities across the nation face similar problems to Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“I think that’s going to have real consequences, not just for young people who can’t afford to buy a house, but for families and communities that aren’t going to have many young people in them,” Dr Denniss said.

He argues one solution is to create designated housing for essential workers.

“Imagine if we had a nurses housing authority or a teachers housing authority, or just a housing authority.”

Mr Denniss doesn’t think early access to superannuation is an effective solution to solve the housing crisis, arguing it benefits a few, while further inflating property prices.

Practical solutions

Independent economist Saul Eslake thinks housing crisis community forums can be useful, but cautions any suggestions wouldn’t be legally binding.

“My concerns is that too much attention is given to what are portrayed as silver bullets or magic solutions.”

He supports higher rates of housing construction for low-income families to help ease the crisis. 

Mr Eslake said state and federal governments should be doing more to remove obstacles to more higher density housing close to transport hubs.

“The federal government in particular and to some extent state governments need to back away from what have often been long established policies that needlessly inflate the demand for housing,” he said.

“They include first home owner grants, stamp duty concessions, and of course excessively generous tax concessions for domestic investors.”

“There’s an old saying that when you’re in a hole the first thing you’ve got to do is stop digging.”

The government says its $32 billion Homes for Australia plan will ensure more Australians have a secure and safe place to call home. 

It includes a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, to fund 30,000 social and affordable rental homes, and a national target to build 1.2 million well-located homes.

But single mum Fran worries about her family’s future.

“So I’m worried about existing children of single parents and I’m worried about my own children.”

“It’s going to be a bad cycle.”