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A cursory examination of rental housing with various agencies raises a major concern.
There are few properties available for under $250 a week, with a two or more bedroom house costing on average $400-plus a week. Single-room apartments are scarce.
Add to that many of the traditionally lower-priced rentals have had recent rent hikes.
It beggars belief how a person on a benefit or pension who might earn less than $400 a week can afford to live here.
Virtually all their income is gone in rent leaving them to the mercy of food banks, charity shops and certainly no discretionary spending.
With winter just around the corner power bills too become a major cause of anxiety. Running a car is not an option for most.
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Hannah Kelly, of economic development agency Whanganui & Partners, quite rightly celebrates the latest figures showing Whanganui incomes have risen to an average of $51,253.
But that remains $11,500 below the national average.
Even on that affording rental accommodation or repaying a mortgage is a stretch.
Kelly says the affordability of living in Whanganui makes the district competitive in attracting new skills and talent.
But she's talking about servicing mortgages.
Not everyone has the 20 per cent deposit required to gain a mortgage or the income to service it.
For a large number of Whanganui residents renting is their only option.
"At the end of the day, we want an economy that serves our lifestyles, not the other way around," Kelly says.
She's quite right about that.
But in a city with 4.5 per cent unemployment
and a high number of unwaged, such as pensioners and people unable to work due to ill health, it seems to be the other way around.
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Landlords deserve to cover their costs and profit from their investments.
But in a land where home ownership used to be the aspiration for every citizen it's high time rentals were brought under control and other forms of investment become attractive.
We need more home owners and fewer renters.