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Housing first recovery put into sharp focus

6 May 2020 at 6:11 pm
Maggie Coggan
The groups want to see 30,000 social housing dwellings built 

Maggie Coggan | 6 May 2020 at 6:11 pm


Housing first recovery put into sharp focus
6 May 2020 at 6:11 pm

The groups want to see 30,000 social housing dwellings built 

Peak housing and homelessness groups are joining a growing number of community groups in a push for a housing-first economic recovery program, as the country experiences a wave of job losses due to COVID-19. 

In a report released on Tuesday, national peak housing bodies, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, and Everybody’s Home outlined four overlapping “waves” on how 30,000 housing units could be delivered within three years.  

The Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP) would involve: 

  1. social housing maintenance and upgrading;
  2. acquisition of sites and properties requiring renovation/completion which are suitable for social housing;
  3. shovel ready development projects; and
  4. longer-term new development projects.

The project calls for a government investment of $7.2 billion for new build/acquisition of houses and $500 million for renovation of existing homes. 

CHIA CEO Wendy Hayhurst said the coalition had presented “easily achievable” reforms that would not only help vulnerable people but the economy. 

“A social housing-led recovery program will boost the economy and create thousands of new jobs in construction, a major industry of employment in Australia,” Hayhurst said.  

“Six per cent of all jobs in Australia are housing construction related. At the same time it will start to make inroads into our huge national shortfall in rental housing affordable to ordinary people.” 

The groups have relentlessly campaigned for a boost to social housing for some time, but Jenny Smith, the chair of Homelessness Australia, said that the pandemic had shown just how urgent the need for social housing was.  

“The pandemic has shown how vulnerable people are when they don’t have a home, and how urgently we need more social housing so that every Australian can have a safe place to live,” Smith said. 

These latest calls add to the growing number of community groups such as the Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS), trade unions and the Centre for Social Impact, which are urging the government to boost Australia’s social housing budget. 

Last week, ACOSS unveiled a five point plan to “build back better”, with an increased social housing spend listed as a key priority. 

See the full report here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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