Housing & Homelessness
Many Australians struggle with housing costs
Australia is experiencing serious housing affordability issues.
Over a million lower income households are paying housing costs which exceed the commonly-used affordability benchmark of 30% of household income.
While many Australians are struggling with housing costs, the majority of those in housing stress are private renters. Rising rent levels have also increased the pressure on public housing and crisis accommodation services and contributed to the current rate of homelessness.
At a time when more than 105,000 people are homeless, crisis accommodation services are turning away more than half of all those seeking new accommodation, mostly due to a lack of accommodation, and public housing stock has declined.
ACOSS and Housing & Homelessness
ACOSS advocates for a fair and equitable housing system where low income Australians have access to safe, secure and affordable housing.
ACOSS has welcomed a number of recent housing policy developments, including the substantial investment in affordable housing as part of the Government's economic stimulus package, the creation of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), the homelessness White Paper (The Road Home) and significant increase in funding to homelessness services.
ACOSS' policy objective is to improve access to affordable, safe and secure housing for low income Australians. To achieve this objective we advocate for:
- A national housing strategy which includes all sections of the housing market, employs a broad range of policy levers and involves both long and short term solutions;
- Sustained investment in affordable housing over the long-term, including in deeply subsidised housing (where rents are set at a maximum of 30% of income) and other forms of subsidised rental housing (for example, NRAS housing, in which rent is set at 20% less than market rate) as well as appropriately targeted affordable home ownership programs;
- Distinct capital and ongoing subsidy funding arrangements, to ensure that provision is made for the costs of maintenance and rental subsidy;
- A housing system which meets the needs of those who are most disadvantaged while maintaining social mix through mixed tenure developments;
- A review of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) to ensure that it best meets the needs of all low income renters. As a first step, the maximum rate of CRA should be increased by 30% (approximately $15 per week) for low income households currently receiving the highest rate of CRA at a cost of $500 million per annum.
- Reform of housing taxes to reduce distortions in the market which leads to house price inflation and encourage investment in less affordable rental housing.
ACOSS is a member of the National Affordable Housing Summit Group, along with National Shelter, the ACTU, the Housing Industry Association and the Community Housing Federation of Australia. The Summit Group is chaired by Professor Julian Disney. The Group conducts housing policy development and advocacy to achieve are fairer and more affordable housing system.
In September 2009, ACOSS coordinated a National Affordable Rental Housing Advocacy Day in Canberra.
ACOSS also conducts independent advocacy on housing and homelessness issues. Recent submissions and papers on housing and homelessness include:
- Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth Inquiry into Homelessness Legislation;
- Inquiry into the Government's economic stimulus initiatives.