Young and Poor in Rental Trap
12 March 2015 at 3:41 pm
Young people could be sentenced to a life of insecure renting, or worse, unless real action is taken to tackle Australia’s housing affordability crisis, according to the national peak welfare body.
CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Dr Cassandra Goldie, will tell a City of Sydney forum tonight that the Federal, State and local Governments must step up to the challenge of improving housing affordability.
“Our housing policy settings are failing to deliver social, economic or intergenerational equity. The case for reform is compelling and urgent, and government action is essential,” Goldie said.
"Affordable supply is at critically low levels. Young people and those on low incomes are locked out of home ownership and the private rental market remains an expensive and insecure place to be.”
Goldie said home ownership rates have steeply declined for young people, with rates for those on low incomes falling fastest.
She said while the proportion of investors has increased significantly, the proportion of first home buyers in the market has reached historically low levels. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of those in the bottom 20 per cent of incomes are experiencing housing stress in the private rental market, paying more than 30 per cent of their income.
“There are major areas in need of urgent reform,” she said.
“Firstly, we need to be addressing the tax concessions which help individuals with high wealth to profit from the housing market, and which keep first home buyers locked out.
“Secondly, we are seeing a diminishing appetite by governments to invest in affordable housing programs. The last 30 years have seen a reduction in government investment in social and community housing by more than 25 per cent.
“Thirdly, we need the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to design a serious joint approach to planning and infrastructure policy and investment. With a national shortage of some half a million affordable rental dwellings, affordable housing, transport and infrastructure should be a national infrastructure priority underpinned by an investment strategy which leverages public and private finance.
"The Commonwealth must be a national leader which recognises that housing affordability and public infrastructure have the ability to unlock much of our productive capacity, whilst delivering much better quality of life, with important health and social outcomes.
"This Budget must chart a new course and deliver a down-payment on future housing investment. It should also deliver necessary relief to those struggling on low incomes in the private rental market though an increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance.”