25,000 social housing dwellings needed in Budget to stem housing crisis

Australia’s chronic underinvestment in social and affordable housing is worsening the housing affordability crisis and aggravating the cost to other areas of the Budget, with at least 25,000 new social housing dwellings needed in this year’s budget, according to a position paper released today by Everybody’s Home, the national campaign to end homelessness.  

The Budget Position Paper includes previously unreleased modeling which shows underinvestment in social housing is causing foregone public sector cost offsets and private sector benefits of $676.5 million per annum currently, rising to $1.286 billion per annum in 2036. These take the form of added costs addressing homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, alcohol/substance abuse, but also reduced household spending and lower community wellbeing.

The submission also notes that constructing 25,000 social homes per year would generate an annual economic output of $12.9 billion, and create 15,700 jobs.

The paper makes the case for expanded social and affordable housing, to give people on low and modest incomes greater housing choice. In the 12 months to January 2022, the asking rent on a three – bedroom home increased by 13.5 per cent. The purchase price on the same property exploded by 20.2 per cent.

The effect on the rental market is also pronounced in the regions, where rents surged 12.1 per cent in the year to December 2021. By comparison, wage growth sat at 2.2 per cent.

It also notes the steep decline in federal funding for social and Indigenous housing which in 2013-14 was over $2 billion, but is only budgeted at $1.6 billion in 2023-24. Indexed for inflation it should be $2.7 billion. In 1994, social housing made up six per cent of all housing. Today it is just four per cent. 

Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, said an investment in social housing was urgent and worthwhile.

“A secure home is the foundation for stability and security. It means you can look after your health, tend to your family, join the workforce and contribute to society. Without a home, none of these things are possible. As our leaders put the final touches on the Budget, they need to be aware of the full benefit of social housing as well as the deep human cost of not providing people with a home. 

“The surging rental and property markets are swallowing up ever larger chunks of household budgets. Some regions of Australia, such as Tasmania, or the NSW and Queensland coasts have seen rents surge more than 20 per cent. This is not just breaking family budgets, it’s pushing families into homelessness. 

“Australia’s common prosperity is best served by a housing system that gives people on low and modest incomes genuine choice and provides them with security and stability. The increasingly brutal financial contest for housing is simply indecent. We can do better.”

Media inquiries: Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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