Budget 2020-21 a missed chance to build social housing, as homelessness and rental insecurity increase
The Government’s failure to fund an increase in social housing in the face of huge and growing unemployment and cuts to income support payments will result in a surge of people becoming homeless or living in extreme rental stress.
National housing and homelessness campaign Everybody’s Home said investment in social housing after decades of falling funding would have created new construction jobs, apprenticeships and homes for a growing number of renters facing housing insecurity and at risk of homelessness.
“This was an opportunity of a lifetime to kill two birds with one stone, by creating jobs at the same time as creating homes, so that everyone has a decent, affordable place to live,” campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin said.
“Before COVID-19 there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia, and more than 800,000 living in rent stress.
“We now face a perfect storm for homelessness to increase – with people who have lost income ‘trading down’ to cheaper rentals, and squeezing out people on the lowest incomes.
“Building 30,000 social housing properties over four years will create 18,000 construction related jobs a year and help pull Australia out of recession.
“People struggling to find a rental they can afford desperately needed this Government to follow the lead of earlier Federal Governments, from Menzies, to Chifley, to Fraser and Rudd, and deliver a nation building investment in social housing infrastructure.”
Ms Colvin said the Federal Government has made small temporary increases in funding to remote Indigenous communities in Queensland and NT 2020/21, but remote housing funding is still less than half the funding level in 2017/18.
The Budget also includes more concessional loans for affordable housing, but nothing for the subsidy needed to make new housing affordable to people on low incomes.
The Budget also includes a cut of $41.3 million from homelessness funding in July 2021.
“COVID-19 exposed just how important our homes are, and how flawed our housing system is. Australians are looking for a new approach to the economy and Budget 2020 has totally let them down,” Ms Colvin said.
“Alongside roads and bridges, building social housing should be a part of a nation-building program so families that are trying desperately to survive the impact of the COVID crisis have a secure home to raise their kids in, recover safely if they are ill, focus on finding a job and be part of their local community.”
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