Roxanne (Roxy) Jones was doing her PhD in Epidemiology at ANU and working two days a week as a researcher at the university. She lived alone in a granny flat in Lyons that had a leaky roof and no internet access.
A year after reporting the leak, it still hadn’t been repaired.
Though less-than-ideal, she found herself in the same position many young single people in Australia’s most expensive rental city find themselves in – priced out of anything better.
With her family based in QLD, living at home wasn’t an option, nor was living with housemates.
“Trying to maintain my independence without going into a shared situation was important to me,” the 28-year-old says.
“Because of my studies and because I have a couple of disabilities, having my own space is pretty consequential.”
Eventually, not-for-profit property management group HomeGround took over as real estate agent for the granny flat – and Roxy’s life changed.
She met HomeGround business development and property manager Maria Edwards, who Roxy says went above and beyond to get her into better accommodation.
“Maria has been really lovely. When the roof situation was becoming worse, she helped me find a new place. I know she went out of her way to help me and find this place I’m in,” she says.
“I’m really indebted to her and HomeGround. I wouldn’t have been able to access a place like I currently live without them. It would’ve been well out of my price range.
“My new place has allowed me to be close to uni; I have my own study space now and good internet.”
To be considered financially sustainable, rent should be no more than 30 per cent of a person’s income. In Canberra, it means even the cheapest one-bedroom unit currently advertised would require a yearly income of at least $65,000 – well above the average student’s earnings.
Affordable rent often has a ripple effect on families and society.
In Roxy’s case, the move to better lodgings has made a world of difference to her important research which she hopes will ultimately help children with critical illnesses experiencing discrimination in high acuity healthcare settings.
And while things are tight, she tries to repay her good fortune by financially helping her extended family whenever she can.
HomeGround has helped many Canberrans find accommodation in an increasingly strained rental market – the single greatest source of stress for many lower income earners.
A social enterprise of the CHC, the ACT’s largest not-for-profit community housing provider, HomeGround also offers other advantages.
It’s Canberra’s only licensed real estate agency through which landlords can access additional tax incentives – such as 100 per cent land tax exemption – in return for their contribution to rental affordability.
Landlords retain complete control over choosing their tenants and enjoy highly secure tenancies with carefully vetted occupants.
The organisation provides professional residential property management services for competitive fees, with all profits reinvested back into the community.
With the increasingly bleak outlook for renters in the nation’s capital, HomeGround’s services are more critical than ever.
But the greatest reward for the socially conscious landlord is the very real impact it has on the lives of Canberrans in unprecedented hard times. Roxy is living proof of its benefits.
“I honestly don’t know where I would be had they not helped me out,” she says.
“It’s a huge relief. I’m so grateful.”
For more information, visit HomeGround.