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Australia’s social housing policy needs stronger leadership and an investment overhaul

Julie Lawson and colleagues write in The Conversation (26.6.19) about the findings of a new AHURI report on social housing policy, indicating that the federal and state governments need to build thousands more social housing units in the next 20 years.

‘Australia will need another 730,000 social housing dwellings in 20 years if it is to tackle homelessness and housing stress among low-income renters. These are the findings of a new report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), which shows social housing is in urgent need of direct public investment.

‘Instead of directly investing in social housing, the federal government has sought to establish investment opportunities for other actors, such as pension funds and private corporations.

‘The vehicle for this investment is the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which was established to offer lower cost finance to social housing providers.

‘The federal government has also encouraged states and territories to focus public resources on supply, land policy reform and the use of planning methods such as inclusionary zoning to deliver affordable and social housing.

‘These initiatives are worthy, but they won’t generate enough new social housing supply on their own. Without direct public investment in the form of a needs-based capital investment program, the government is unlikely to fill the social housing gap.’

Is this a housing system that cares? That’s the question for Australians and their new government

Emma Power and Kathleen Mee write in The Conversation (28.5.19) that the Morrison government, having added a housing minister to its ranks, needs to recognise housing as having more than just economic value.

‘Growing numbers of Australians are locked out of home ownership or struggling in insecure and unaffordable private rental markets. There are concerns about home owners drowning in debt. And for lower-income earners, high housing costs mean that paying for food, energy bills and health costs is an ongoing challenge.

‘It is time for a new way of talking about housing in Australia. The housing crisis is quickly turning into a crisis of care.

‘We call on the newly re-elected Morrison government and new Housing Minister Michael Sukkar to recognise that the value of housing is not just economic. Housing is an infrastructure of care. Australian governments need to ask: is this a housing system that cares?’

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