Social housing must be expanded as banks withdraw support

News | Jan 20, 2021

A significant expansion of social housing is urgently needed to prevent surging homelessness as banks announce they are withdrawing support to households that cannot pay their mortgages.

The big four provided mortgage deferrals to hundreds of thousands of households when the pandemic hit last year, preventing foreclosures. But today, Nine newspapers report that these repayment pauses will be removed.

Everybody’s Home – a national campaign to end homelessness, said the decision would contribute to a surge in housing stress and homelessness unless urgent action was taken.

“The initial surge of the pandemic may have passed but the economic aftershocks are still smashing household incomes. Housing and homelessness providers we work with are under more pressure than ever, with absolutely surging demand,” said Everybody’s Home spokesperson, Kate Colvin.

“Industries such as aviation, hospitality, tourism, events and higher education have been demolished by the pandemic. Even today, the hospitality industry is requesting a new assistance package, aviation has no idea when international borders will reopen and the universities are no clearer as to when they can accept new international enrolments.

“Amid this uncertainty, expanded social housing offers a powerful social and economic response. By investing in social housing we can put a rocket under the construction industry to employ tens of thousands more people. At the same time we can quickly expand the number of homes available to people whose livelihoods have been devastated by the pandemic.

According to today’s report, the Commonwealth Bank had deferred 158,000 loans between March and October of last year, with 46,000 loans still on pause in October.

Westpac paused 145,000 loans and approximately one quarter had yet to resume payments.

An Equity Economics report released by Everybody’s Home in mid-December predicted the COVID-19 crisis would lead to a nine per cent surge in homelessness and 24 per cent more Australian families experiencing housing stress in 2021.

It found a Federal Government investment of $7 billion in social housing would make a serious dent in homelessness, turbocharge the post pandemic economy by $18.2 billion, and create 18,000 jobs per year over four years.

Further comment Kate Colvin 0418 103 292
Further info Nick Lucchinelli 0422229032