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NFP Six-Point National Housing Affordability Plan

26 April 2017 at 2:42 pm
Lina Caneva
Peak bodies ACOSS and National Shelter have urged the federal government not to shirk its responsibility to address the housing affordability crisis in the federal budget – releasing a six-point plan to address the issue.

Lina Caneva | 26 April 2017 at 2:42 pm


NFP Six-Point National Housing Affordability Plan
26 April 2017 at 2:42 pm

Peak bodies ACOSS and National Shelter have urged the federal government not to shirk its responsibility to address the housing affordability crisis in the federal budget –  releasing a six-point plan to address the issue.

“The federal government must grasp the housing affordability crisis with both hands and put in place the right policies for the future,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

Goldie said recent speculation of a government retreat, and various proposals that lack broad support – including widely criticised ideas such as using super to fund housing deposits – suggested some within the government viewed this task as beyond them.

“It is not. There is broad expert consensus about what needs to done,” Goldie said.

Releasing Housing Australia’s People: A Serious Plan, ACOSS and National Shelter said it was a comprehensive package of reforms that would deliver growth in social and affordability housing for people on low and modest incomes and take the heat out of the open housing market.

CEO of National Shelter Adrian Pisarski said a long-term housing affordability plan was vital.

“A growing number of people on social security payments or modest wages are being pushed out of our cities – where most of the jobs are – by a creeping crisis in housing affordability,” Pisarski said.

“We estimate that half a million more affordable homes are needed.

“State governments are making multi-million [dollar] losses on public housing – NSW alone is ‘losing’ over $900 million. The reason is simple: to keep rents affordable they are held at 25 per cent of income, and social security payments are too low: $270 a week for a single adult on Newstart Allowance.

“It’s not surprising that the share of social (public and community) housing dwellings has fallen from 5.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent over the last 15 years and waiting lists stand at 180,000 people nationally.

“It will take more than a decade to repair the damage done by the last decade of unrestrained housing price speculation. A long-term housing affordability plan led by a Commonwealth housing minister and backed by the states is vital.”

The ACOSS-National Shelter plan includes several points:

  • Slow the growth in home prices and rents by reforming tax breaks like Capital Gains Tax and negative gearing that encourage speculation in property prices. Policies that add to home prices, such as allowing people to use superannuation to buy or invest in housing, should be avoided.
  • Re-invest in social housing through the National Affordable Housing Agreement, with clear accountability for states to expand and properly maintain social housing (public and community) for people with low incomes.
  • Improve the incomes of people relying on social security payments, especially the $38 a day Newstart Allowance and Rent Assistance. Consider higher rent assistance payments in the most expensive areas.
  • Encourage private investment in social housing through a social housing finance corporation (bond aggregator) to provide low cost credit, and a new rental housing investment incentive for affordable housing for low and modest income-earners to replace “negative gearing”.
  • But a bond aggregator alone will not make social housing sustainable: direct public investment and rent assistance must be increased.
  • Funding for homelessness services must be secured for at least five years, and innovations like “housing first” strategies and better links with social housing should be promoted.
  • States should work with the Commonwealth and local government to release land for affordable housing through inclusionary zoning and progressively replace housing stamp duties with a land tax extending to owner-occupied properties.

ACOSS and National Shelter said they welcomed the government’s commitment to make affordable housing a centrepiece of the budget.

“It’s vital that they follow this through. Australia’s housing affordability crisis is serious and we need a serious plan to tackle it,” they said.

“We also welcome Labor’s commitments to reform housing tax breaks, and curbing borrowing by self managed super funds and to restore a national housing ministry.”

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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