Why a post-COVID housing investment 'makes perfect sense' for governments
13 May 2020 at 3:02 pm
Labor wants to ensure affordable housing is available for the nation’s frontline workers
Housing advocates have backed calls from the ALP to create a National Housing Stimulus Plan to help Australia recover from COVID-19.
Labor’s housing and homelessness spokesperson Jason Clare said on Tuesday that work in the housing construction industry was drying up, which meant a sharp decline in work for tradespeople and small businesses unless action was taken.
The federal opposition believes a National Housing Stimulus Plan should involve governments working with the private sector and superannuation funds to invest in more social and affordable housing, while also repairing existing social housing.
Clare said a specific program should be developed to help nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, supermarket employees and other front-line workers.
“Around the country governments and super funds are already building some affordable rental accommodation for key workers – close to where they work. But a lot more can be done,” Clare said.
“We need a plan that creates jobs for tradies and more affordable housing for these heroes.”
The plan has been backed by National Shelter, which has worked with the Community Housing Industry Association and Homelessness Australia to develop a proposal to build 30,000 housing units within three years.
Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter’s executive officer, told Pro Bono News: “Building social and affordable housing are among the best things that can be done to get workers working, businesses doing business and most importantly meeting a massive social need.”
The Australian Council of Social Service also recently advocated for an ambitious $7 billion program to build 30,000 social housing properties to create jobs and reduce homelessness.
Pisarski said taking a housing-first approach to the nation’s COVID-19 recovery was vital.
“A post-COVID investment makes perfect sense and should be the beginning of a longer-term investment in social and affordable housing,” he said.
“More people will need it and it helps generate economic activity. It will speed the recovery and fill in some of the shortage we currently have.”
While the federal government has not announced any plans for a housing stimulus plan, it has indicated it will focus on supporting vulnerable people needing a home.
Luke Howarth, the assistant minister for community housing, spoke about the Commonwealth’s priorities following an Australian Alliance to End Homelessness online forum on Tuesday.
“My key focus is reducing the incidence of homelessness and safe and secure housing; and housing first because we know this leads to better health education and safety outcomes and workforce participant and choices in the bridge to recovery,” Howarth said.