Social housing in Australia declines while rents and house prices rise

New data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare  shows the proportion of social housing has declined across Australia at the same time rents and house prices are surging.

From 2014 – 2020, the proportion of social housing households has fallen from 4.6 to 4.2 per cent.

Kate Colvin from Everybody’s Home says that decrease spells major trouble for many Australians living in housing stress, as well as those currently experiencing or on the brink of homelessness.

“Social housing has historically played an important role providinga safe, secure place to call home to those locked out of the private housing market,” Ms Colvin said.

“As more and more people on low to middle incomes are being left behind by rising rents and house prices, the need for social housing in Australia has never been greater. We need the proportion of social housing to grow, not decline.”

“Homes that ordinary families can afford is critical infrastructure for every community. With a home everybody has the ability to live, work and raise their families. But surging prices and low vacancy rates mean a place to call home is increasingly out of reach for many Australians.”

According to June’s CoreLogic report which looked at house price growth for the first four months of 2021, Sydney recorded an extraordinary quarterly growth of 9.3 per cent. In regional NSW, there was a quarterly increase of 7.8 per cent.

There was a 5.5 per cent quarterly increase in house prices in Melbourne, a 6.2 per cent rise in Brisbane and a 7.9 per cent jump in Hobart.

The rental market is also surging, with national rents for all houses increasing by 15.1 per cent and rents for units increasing by 8.1 per cent in the past 12 months.

Further, according to economic modelling, homelessness is projected to surge across Australia by nine per cent this year while housing stress is forecast to increase by 24 per cent.

“We cannot have a situation where house prices rise at close to 10 per cent a quarter in some cases, while social housing declines. That is a recipe for more housing stress, more homelessness and deepening inequality,” Ms Colvin said.

“On the current trajectory, housing stress is only going to worsen for people on low and middle incomes, which is why we need the Federal Government to make an urgent investment in social housing now.”

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