TWELVE DOLLARS may not sound like a lot to many, but for Marianna Paulin it could mean giving up her beloved 20-year-old cat.
The pensioner — who has already stopped buying pain killers for her chronic hip aches — is facing a $12 weekly rent hike from March 28 for her WA housing department unit.
The hike follows the Barnett government’s decision to include allowances, such as pharmaceutical allowances, as income for assessing rent. It effectively means a quarter of the allowance will go straight to the WA housing department.
Caught in the net are public housing tenants receiving child support, pharmaceutical allowances, carers, people working for the dole, pensioners and veterans.
“I might have to get rid of my cat,” 67-year-old Ms Paulin tells the Voice, tears welling.
After paying rent, the Bayswater woman has $320 a week left to pay for food, transport, power and water, medicine and other bills.
When asked what luxuries she treats herself to, bleak laughter fills the room: she struggles to remember her last holiday.
The government insists the changes will “create a fairer system”.
Rent hikes are limited to $12 a week this financial year but subsequent years’ rent will not have a ceiling.
Ms Paulin’s neighbour, Ann Rickman, is concerned about fine print in tenancy agreements stating increases can come every six months with just 60 days’ notice.
by EMMIE DOWLING