Call for NFP Input into Affordable Housing
Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 9:46 am
The Federal Government is calling for submissions on ways to boost the supply of affordable rental housing through innovative financing models across Australia.
The Government said the call followed the establishment of a working group set up to identify ways to increase affordable housing supply for those on low incomes, and implement trials of models in cooperation with the states and territories.
“Improvements in the area of attracting investment to affordable housing supply will require innovative and collaborative approaches across the private and Not for Profit sectors, and with states and territories,” Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said.
Porter said the government’s work on affordable housing would boost the momentum of initiatives already underway by states and territories, such as the New South Wales Government’s recently announced Social and Affordable Housing Fund.
However, the Federal Opposition said the establishment of a working group was “nothing but a stalling tactic to put the issue off the agenda until after the next budget and potentially the election”.
“The working group will be made up entirely of government bureaucrats who won’t report until 30 June 2016, well after the next budget is due to be handed down,” Shadow Minister for Housing, Senator Katy Gallagher, said.
“Embarrassingly, this working group announcement which will provide advice to government on what to do about housing affordability issues in Australia comes after more than two years of the Abbott/Turnbull government, three housing ministers, millions of dollars in cuts to programs and no housing policy to speak of.”
The government’s Issues Paper said that at June 2015, there were 403,767 social housing dwellings across Australia. This consisted of 321,627 public housing dwellings, 72,105 community housing dwellings and 10,035 state-owned and managed Indigenous housing dwellings.
“The sustainability of public housing presents an ongoing challenge for governments,” the paper said.
“In simple terms, the rent received from tenants does not cover operating costs, or fund new supply. Some states and territories continue to sell off stock and/or transfer management of existing stock to community housing organisations.
“Community housing can deliver some advantages as a model for providing affordable housing.”
However, the paper said the community housing sector was not currently viewed as a mature asset class, and as such private financing institutions offer finance at unfavourable terms compared to other private sector businesses.
“Large growth-orientated community housing organisations may have the potential to become substantive players in the provision of large-scale affordable housing solutions. The Working Group invites proposals which discuss how the community housing sector would interact with new financing models,” the paper said.
Public submissions to the working group are open until 11 March 2016 and the Government said a small number of roundtables with industry and academic experts would be held during the submission process.
Minister Porter said the working group was expected to provide its final report, including recommendations for possible trials and next steps, to the Heads of Treasuries by 30 June 2016.
The working group’s Terms of Reference and Issues Paper, as well as further information about how to make a submission, are available here.