ACOSS wants housing affordability on tax reform forum agenda

Today’s release of the Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot is another timely reminder of the bleak reality for people living on income support or low wages trying to keep a roof over their heads in our increasingly expensive cities and towns around Australia, according to the Australian Council of Social Service.

“We have known for a long time that there is a shortage of affordable rental housing across all major cities and even most regional areas. This latest snapshot illustrates just how critical that shortage is,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We believe it also provides further evidence of an increasing inequality gap. ACOSS recently declared that the plight of disadvantaged groups and people struggling on low incomes is worsening, and that all indications point to more people hitting hard times and falling into poverty.

“Our soon to be released 2011 Community Sector Survey will show the number of people accessing and being turned away from services is increasing, especially in the areas of housing and homelessness.

“This issue has been largely forgotten amid the series of natural disasters and debate about establishing a carbon price mechanism. But now is the time for renewed interest and a national housing strategy, if we are to prevent more people from plunging into homelessness and poverty.

“ACOSS was pleased to hear Social Housing Minister Senator Mark Arbib recently announce the Commonwealth intention to overhaul the nation’s public housing system, which we know is financially broken. The overhaul is a great opportunity and should be the focus of the next National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA).

“There is an urgent need for a fresh approach towards funding affordable housing in Australia, and we urge the Federal and State Governments’ to use the upcoming negotiations for a new NAHA to explore new directions.

“ACOSS would also like to see this issue on the agenda of the National Tax Forum, which provides another platform to consider how Australian housing can be improved. ACOSS will continue to pursue this important issue as a member of the National Affordable Housing Summit Group,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas – 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.