NFP Affordable Housing Reform Agenda Released
24 March 2015 at 11:34 am
Peak community and housing groups have converged on Canberra to urge the Federal Government to work with them in developing a national housing strategy to address the worsening housing affordability crisis in Australia.
The groups have released An Affordable Housing Reform Agenda – outlining reform priorities for an efficient and affordable housing system that they say strengthens productivity and participation.
Groups include the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), National Shelter, Homelessness Australia, the Community Housing Federation of Australia and the National Association of Tenant Organisations.
The release also coincides with National Shelter’s National Day of Action which calls on the Federal Government to live up to its responsibilities to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable housing.
The Affordable Housing Reform Agenda document says that although it is fundamental to economic participation, affordable housing is not currently considered by Governments to be part of the nation’s infrastructure agenda.
“As a result of this broader disconnect, many of the policies pursued by Australian Governments in the name of housing affordability serve to increase demand for housing, while failing to tackle the regulatory and cost barriers to housing supply," the document said.
“These housing market failures need to be addressed if Australia wishes to increase national productivity.
“While the responsibilities for affordable housing and homelessness are shared between the three levels of Government, each level has historically looked to blame the others for the failures of the housing and homelessness system.
“This has contributed to policy paralysis and undermined efforts to collaborate and coordinate policy. The current review of the federation shines a spotlight on housing and homelessness policy and provides an opportunity to grapple with these complexities at a systemic level.”
The release of the Agenda comes as the Federal Government extended homelessness funding for another two years, providing $230 million under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness – just as current funding was due to run out in June 2015.
“It is simply unacceptable that four in five private rental households in the lowest 20 per cent of incomes are in unaffordable housing, paying more than 30 per cent of income in rent. A further 30 per cent of the second lowest quintile is also experiencing housing stress,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“The reality is that the housing supply shortfall is becoming a serious brake on productivity. The current policy and tax mix distorts investment decisions, is a barrier to workforce participation and mobility and contributes to house price inflation leading to greater inequality and social exclusion.”
“There is a shortfall of 600,000 affordable houses across Australia and this will only get worse as the population grows,” CEO of Homelessness Australia Glenda Stevens said.
“Each day, while the Government dithers and discusses, 399 additional people come to homelessness services for assistance. By far the greatest request is for somewhere to sleep. People will remain homeless while there is insufficient suitable housing for them.”
The report calls for urgent investment in new affordable housing stock.
A future national affordable housing agreement should adopt specific targets to halve homelessness by 2020; halve the shortfall in housing supply available and affordable to the bottom 40 per cent of household incomes by 2025, and meet the shortfall in housing supply available and affordable to the bottom 40% of household by 2035. Government investment should comprise 10% or $15 billion over 20 years, beginning with an additional $10 billion in the first 5 years.
Intergovernmental housing agreements (including the current NAHA and NPAH) should be adequately indexed to ensure their real value is maintained.
In order to facilitate growth in social housing, state governments should accelerate stock transfer to meet the 2009 Housing Ministers’ target of up to 35% of stock owned or managed by CHPs by 2020.