Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

One million new affordable homes needed

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New research highlights the need for one million extra affordable homes across Australia by 2036.

Analysis by UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre looked at Australian Bureau of Statistics data to measure rental stress. People are considered to be suffering from rental stress if they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

The study noted that there is already an existing deficit of 651,300 social and affordable homes. Based on current trends, this will blow out to around 1,024,000 by 2036. One-third of all the affordable homes needed are in the state of New South Wales.

According to lead researcher Laurence Troy “The recent housing boom has contributed to the number of households in distress, but the need actually arises from a prolonged lack of investment into social and affordable housing going back two to three decades.”

“The last time there was any significant boost to that funding – you’re talking about the Whitlam government era” Troy said.

A number of non-government organisations and social housing groups have suggested that the best way to provide the new homes is for the government to invest $8.6 billion a year in capital grants for not-for-profit organisations.

But social housing provided by not-for-profit organisations is inferior to the publicly owned and rent controlled homes built during the Whitlam era. The regime over residents’ rent and tenure is not controlled in the same way, and the quality of the properties is harder to monitor.

What we need is a program to build and/or acquire one million new public housing properties that are under the democratic control of the residents themselves.

This could be easily paid for if the government scrapped subsidies for property investors, including negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions. These subsidies currently cost taxpayers an enormous $11.8 billion per year!

With this amount of money, coupled with increased taxes on big business, we could build one million new public homes much sooner than 2036.

By Anthony Main