The rental crisis is especially tough for single parents. Nikki and Stacey found a solution

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun11,2024
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When Nikki embarked on a new chapter as a single mum, finding a home that was pleasant and affordable for herself and her daughter seemed daunting.
Nikki had just completed her psychology internship in Mackay, Queensland, and was about to move to the Sunshine Coast with her eight-year-old daughter Portia for work.
The prospect of starting anew was both exciting and confronting.
Then a friend suggested she share with another single mum — Stacey and her daughter Halo.
After exchanging numbers, Nikki and Stacey connected, and in just a matter of minutes, they realised they could live together.

“The prospect of combining our incomes to rent a spacious house with a pool felt like a dream come true — a safe haven for us to heal and grow,” Stacey said.

Despite the initial unfamiliarity, the first few months were spent blending together as a household of two adults and two kids.
Nikki said: “We were nervous at first, as each of our children have completely different personalities and energy levels.”
But as time went by a genuine friendship blossomed between Nikki and Stacey.
They found solace and support in each other’s company and their similar parenting styles served as a solid foundation for their bond.

“Our daughters Portia and Halo quickly formed a sisterly connection, despite their five-year age gap, learning and growing together in ways that mirrored biological siblings,” Nikki said.

How much are single parents spending on rent?

The number of single-parent families with dependent children is increasing, with Australian Bureau of Statistics Census figures showing there were 674,059 one-parent families with dependent children in 2021, up from 619,140 one-parent families with dependent children in 2016.
as a single parent is proving to be difficult for Australians, with data showing that single parents are spending an average of almost 60 per cent of their weekly income on rent across major cities. Sydney single parents spend an average of 75 per cent of their income on rent alone.
A graph showing the per cent of income single parents spend on rent in Australian major cities.

Data from the ABS, Wage Price Index and Proptrack Market Insights shows single parents are spending nearly 60 per cent of their income on rent in major cities across Australia. Source: SBS

According to the Anglicare 2024 Social Housing report, single parents face even more limitations when it comes to

Just three out of the 3,483 (or 0.09 per cent) of the properties listed in Brisbane were deemed appropriate for single parents. Results from other major cities also highlighted the difficulties for single parents trying to find an affordable rental, with only eight out of 10,160 rental properties listed in the greater Sydney and Illawarra area deemed suitable.

A graph showing the number of available rentals for single parent families.

Data from the Anglicare 2024 Social Housing Report shows that just 3 out of the 3,483 rental properties listed in Brisbane were deemed affordable for single parents on minimum wage with two children. Source: SBS

What is housing precarity?

Wendy Stone is professor of housing and social policy in the Centre for Urban Transitions at Swinburne University of Technology. She said more single parents are being forced into alternative living situations, such as co-living options, as a result of the rental crisis.
Wendy says while this can be beneficial for some families, such as Nikki and Stacey — it’s a trend that highlights the need for urgent policy interventions to keep families in their family home at the point of separation, divorce or widowhood.
But Australia has no such policies.

“We desperately need to address the factors that place some single-parent households at greater risk of housing precarity,” Stone said.

“Single mothers are at most at risk, especially after divorce or separation. Often those in mortgages simply cannot afford to keep the family home, which means uprooting children from schools, communities and family.”
Housing precarity refers to situations where people lack stable, secure, or affordable housing. It means they might not have a reliable place to live, or they may be at risk of losing their housing because they can’t afford it or because their living situation is unstable.

This can lead to various issues like homelessness, overcrowding, or living in unsafe or inadequate conditions.

“Shared housing options, including affordable and supported housing, have positive outcomes for children and can provide a solution for single mothers,” Stone said.

“However, addressing concerns about living with other demographics is crucial to ensure a positive experience for single mothers and their children.”

Two women embracing outside

Stacey (right) chose Nikki to be her bridesmaid at her wedding. Source: SBS / Good Moments/Good Moments

A healing experience, borne out of necessity

Both Stacey and Nikki have now moved into their own homes, but say the time they spent co-living as single parents was the best two years of their lives.
“It really became a house of healing,” Stacey said.

“We did everything together, we parented our daughters, cooked and ate dinner together and we were able to watch the other’s child if one of us went out or had plans,” Nikki said.

Both Nikki and Stacey say that their time in the ‘house of healing’ gave them the space and support to be able to grow and find healthy relationships with their new partners. They are still close friends, with Stacey choosing Nikki as a bridesmaid at her wedding this year.
“Both of us look back at that time with such fond memories. It was the start of a lifelong friendship for us and our daughters,” Stacey said.
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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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