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Can the private rental sector provide a secure, affordable housing solution?

Gavin Wood and Rachel Ong write in The Conversation (19.10.16) about the shortage of housing stock in Australian cities for low-income families, and suggest ways that state housing authorities might help alleviate the problem, including by enlisting the support of the private rental sector.

‘Despite a relatively healthy supply-side picture for the general housing market, the expected trickle down of housing opportunities to low-income households in Australia has failed to materialise.

‘The UK Department for Communities and Local Government boasted this year of a seven-year high in construction starting on new houses; in the 12 months to December 2015, there were a little over 143,500 housing starts. With a population of 54.3 million, the English housing sector is adding one new dwelling for every 380 persons.

‘Over the same period there were 231,411 housing approvals in Australia. With a population of 23.5 million in 2014, the Australian housing sector is adding one new dwelling for every 102 persons.

‘… The Australian tax system currently provides indirect support for the supply of private rental housing through tax concessions such as negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts. Is it now time to harness some of the private investment stimulated by these concessions to help improve the supply of affordable and secure housing opportunities for low-income households.’

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