Call for $10Billion Affordable Housing Fund
Wednesday, 30th March 2016 at 9:49 pm
Welfare Not for Profit, the St Vincent de Paul Society, has urged bipartisan support for a national plan that would establish a $10 billion affordable housing fund to help fix the country’s growing homelessness crisis.
Vinnies National Council has released a paper, The Ache for Home, which contains a housing and homelessness plan with policy recommendations aimed at addressing statistics that show that more than 100,000 people experience homelessness each night.
The paper’s key recommendations to the Federal Government are:
1) The establishment of a $10 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund.
2) The preparation of a National Housing Plan.
3) The recognition of the human right to housing.
4) The setting of new targets to halve homelessness and halve the housing shortfall by 2025.
Vinnies Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said having a place to call home was something that everyone should be able to experience.
“Currently, this is not the case. There is a serious shortfall, of around 500,000 dwellings, of social and affordable housing that must be urgently addressed,” Dr Falzon said.
“The St Vincent de Paul Society is presenting all sides of politics with an election year challenge to fix Australia’s housing and homelessness crisis.
“A $10 billion injection of funds into social and affordable housing can be paid for responsibly by reforms to negative gearing and capital gains tax along with already-identified changes to superannuation tax concessions and the closing of tax loopholes.”
The paper recommends that to address the problem at a realistic scale, the fund needs to be $10 billion.
“This will, at a per unit price of $250,000, provide up to 40,000 units of housing that, at an average of 2.5 persons per unit, will meet the immediate need of 100,000 homeless persons,” the paper said.
“This funding should be available at very low interest rates, noting that the current 10 year bond rate is about 2 per cent.The funds should be available to community organisations, local and state governments and other organisations that can present viable and credible proposals to provide new housing that meets the essential criteria of appropriateness and sustainability.
“The development and execution of proposals for access to the funding should come from local
communities, organisations and governments who know their local areas, may well
have access to land and other resources to contribute and who can ensure that new housing
is integrated into the broader local community infrastructure.”
It said entities could include state and territory governments, community housing providers, community organisations, and the private sector including institutional investors such as superannuation funds.
“Organisations that present proposals that include a significant capital contribution, in the form of
land or some other means, should be eligible for a lower interest rate. For example, church groups
may contribute land, community organisations may provide the management of the social housing
upon completion and corporations may furnish capital,” the paper said.
The report said a critical part of establishing the fund was setting up the criteria for funding including:
• maximising choices for people experiencing homelessness about location and type of housing;
• providing a path to homeownership for those on low incomes;
• supporting mixed tenancies of public and private housing;
• taking into account local infrastructure including employment, education, health and transport;
• incorporating high quality building standards to reduce whole-of-life cost;
• employing energy efficiency measures to reduce ongoing power costs; and
• meeting cultural needs (eg of the First Australians and newly-arrived refugees).
“The Society does not advocate that the Federal Government itself become a developer of housing— the role of the federal government is to provide the enabling capital and the strategic framework and criteria for its use,” the paper said.
“The operation of the fund should be monitored carefully and reviewed annually and its effect
on supply of social and affordable housing reported. Further tranches of funding should be
actively considered based on the experience of the effectiveness of the funding.”
The report The Ache for Home – a Plan to Address Chronic Homelessness and Housing Unaffordability in Australia is available at www.vinnies.org.au/theacheforhome.