Alliance urges Government rethink of cuts to National Rental Affordability Scheme

8 February 2011

The National Affordable Housing Summit has arrived in Canberra to urge the Federal Government to reverse its plan to cut subsidies for private investment in low-rent housing through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).

The group said today:

“The Government’s proposed cut is ill-considered, alarmingly short-sighted, and a grave setback for tens of thousands of people who desperately need affordable housing.

“NRAS provides subsidies for private investors who agree to build new rental housing and charge rents at least 20% below market rates. It creates highly cost-effective partnerships between those investors, State and local governments and non-profit housing organisations. It avoids the problems of stigma and tension which can afflict large housing estates.

“The scheme was established three years ago and, despite the GFC, has been gathering good momentum as potential participants begin to appreciate its strengths. A similar scheme in the US took more than five years to gather similar momentum but has now operated very successfully for more than twenty years.

“The Government promised enough funding to develop 50,000 dwellings, with a further 50,000 if needed, but has now capped the scheme at 35,000. This cut is already severely threatening the plans of housing providers who have developed their operations to utilise the scheme and is eroding the confidence of potential investors. A scheme of this kind cannot be turned on and off like a tap.

The chair of the Summit group, Julian Disney said, “it is essential that the responsible Minister, Tony Burke, announces in his forthcoming statement on affordable housing that growth to the promised total of 50,000 dwellings will resume by no later than 2014 and be achieved by 2015.”

For further information and interviews, contact Fernando de Freitas on 0419 626 155

The Summit group includes National Shelter, the Housing Industry Association, Community Housing Federation of Australia, Australian Council of Social Service and Australian Council of Trade Unions.