Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Affordable Housing
Australia is in desperate need of an overarching affordable housing policy. Affordable housing is crucial for a well-functioning society. It can mean the difference between abject poverty and being able to put food on the table and is critical for employment, good health, and general social participation and well-being.
However, Australia has an affordable housing crisis which is, in part, a result of an ad hoc approach to affordable housing over the past thirty years. Housing stress is endemic among people on low incomes, notably those who do not own their own home (and who are not lucky enough to be housed in social housing). Social housing is an increasingly scarce resource, available to only the very needy. A lack of affordable housing is contributing to an increase in homelessness, particularly among older cohorts. Fewer retirees are entering retirement owning their home, which is placing pressure on an already stretched social housing system. Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) is falling further and further behind market rents, making many areas unaffordable for people in receipt of income support.
This situation is the result of not having a long-term national affordable housing plan and it will worsen if substantial action is not taken. It is also the result of Australia’s tax system favouring home owners and investors over everyone else.