Labor Pledges to Address Homelessness and Affordable Housing
16 June 2016 at 5:18 pm
The Labor Party has promised to take action to reduce homelessness as well as address the housing affordability crisis, in a move that follows a lengthy campaign from the Not for Profit sector.
The shadow minister for housing and homelessness, Senator Katy Gallagher, released a statement on Thursday that said too many Australians missed out on the “dream of homeownership”, while 850,000 households lived with rental stress.
The Rental Affordability Index, also published on Thursday, found low-income households typically pay between 50 per cent and 85 per cent of their income on rent.
“There are as many as 105,000 people who are homeless on any given night of the year. At a time when more people are experiencing housing stress and the rates of homelessness remain high, we cannot continue to stand by and adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach,” Gallagher said in her statement.
“Labor will develop a national affordable housing strategy to drive the development of an agreed, coordinated approach to addressing housing affordability in Australia.”
The Labor housing strategy included appointing a minister for housing and homelessness, working with the states to tackle housing affordability, re-establishing the national housing supply council and investigating the development of national rental standards.
Labour has also pledged to halve homelessness by 2025, which a group of leading housing and homelessness Not for Profits had been demanding.
Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers welcomed the announcement.
“Anglicare Australia is part of a coalition of charities that have called on all four major parties to commit to halving homelessness by 2025. We are therefore very pleased to see this reflected in the ALP’s commitment to a national affordable housing strategy announced today,” Chambers said.
“As a long term advocate for affordable private rental housing we are also pleased to see this emphasis in the housing strategy.”
Gallagher said Labor would work with homelessness services to deliver long-term certainty for the sector, and would immediately host a national roundtable on homelessness as well as a meeting of state and territory housing and homelessness ministers.
Labor said women and children fleeing domestic and family violence would be supported with $88 million over two years for a new safe housing program.
From 1 July 2017, Labor said it would also limit negative gearing to new property.
“Labor seeks to level the playing field, particularly for first home buyers and will fully grandfather and preserve the tax offsets that are currently available to existing property owners,” Gallagher said.
“Too often, discussions on affordable housing concentrate on home ownership – yet, over 30 per cent of all households are renters.
“It’s important that governments ensure that the needs of renting households are reviewed in light of the changes in the housing market over time.
“Labor will ensure that the needs of renting households are considered within the national strategy on affordable housing.”
Labor also promised to provide a one-off establishment grant of $3 million to Homes4Homes, a social enterprise by The Big Issue, looking to raise capital funds to invest back into affordable housing supply.