Meeting housing needs: media releases

Proposed social rent models fail affordability test

 

National Shelter Media Release 15 September 2015

Affordable housing peak National Shelter has today released a report damning reform options under consideration by the Federal Government.

Proposals to move public housing tenants to market rents supported by Commonwealth Rent Assistance would place public tenants in housing stress with insufficient disposable income after meeting massive rent increases.

According to Shelter’s Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski “Public housing is there to protect vulnerable tenants who need the affordability provided by low rents.”

Across Australia public housing rents are set as a proportion of income, typically 25% of mostly benefit payments, which make public housing far more affordable than private rental housing.

Public tenants do not receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance but tenants in private rental who are on benefits do.

“We accept there is an anomaly between public tenants and private renters on similar incomes, where private renters pay far more, but this is an argument to increase affordable housing supply not make all tenants equally poor.” Mr Pisarski added

While a reasonable case can be made for reforming rent policy on a number of grounds, none of the reform options currently on the table appear to be viable replacements for the current approach of basing rents on tenant income. Rent policy reform, if it is to be seriously attempted, requires a much more nuanced and thoughtful examination than it has received in policy processes to date.

The market has run away from social housing and neglect by successive governments has let it. To suggest that we should level the playing field between social housing tenants and low income tenants in the private market is like saying we should remove subsidised medicines and increase disease and distress.

An argument oft cited to change rent policy is that low public rents create a disincentive to work. A recent study by the Productivity Commission has found public tenants are no less likely to find or retain work than others when the characteristics of public tenants is taken into account. http://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/housing-employment 

The Shelter study finds that the current rent setting for most public tenants is required to provide affordability close to services and opportunities. Reform is required to ensure financial sustainability for the system but needs more careful consideration and flexibility.

The way to make social housing both fair and viable is to build more housing, utilise community housing organisations with private finance based on appropriate government incentives, not by slugging public tenants.

EndsThe full report is available from the National Shelter website here

 

Voices of housing stressed converge on Canberra for National Day of Action

Released Monday 23 March 2014 

Housing and homelessness organisations will converge on Canberra for National Shelter’s National Day of Action on Tuesday 24 March 2015 calling on the Federal Government to live up to its responsibilities to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable housing.  

 

30 June 2015 looms large for  housing and homelessness peaks National Shelter, Homelessness Australia and the Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA) who will lose the funding that allows them to voice the concerns of vulnerable people in the housing system. 

To make matters worse, the Government’s Federation process seems to be indicating that they will abandon their role in housing policy and programs, despite a history of 70 years of involvement.  

The sector has welcomed today’s news that the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness has been extended by two years.  But the timing, only 100 days out from the end of the existing agreement, reflects a piecemeal approach. 

“The news today about extending the NPAH is great, but the chaos and lack of communication leading up to the announcement highlights the need for a integrated and strategic plan to address homelessness and affordable housing supply,” National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said. 

“National Shelter’s National Day of Action will involve delegations made up of housing and homelessness peaks and service providers meeting with government, opposition and cross bench MPs.

“We want our MPs to understand the gravity of what is happening.   Representatives from Anglicare, YWCA, Vinnies, Homelessness Australia, CHFA and Councils of Social Service and Shelters from around the country are dedicating time to making this point. 

“People will converge on Canberra from all corners of the country to knock on as many doors as possible to convince our elected representatives that now is the time to step up on housing. 

“The crisis in affordable housing is now so deep it cannot be far short of catastrophic.    We need a strategy to recast government programs, taxes and other incentives to create scale investment from institutions in social and affordable housing.  

“Governments, community organisations and the private sector must partner to create new ways to leverage investment in affordable housing at scale.   

“If everyone, including Government, steps up we can meet this challenge and unlock the economic and social dividends of secure, affordable and stable housing for us all.” 

 

ENDS 

Follow the National Day of Action via Twitter @AdrianPisarski, @NationalShleter @DrAliceClark. 

ACOSS Press Conference, 10.30am on the Day of Action (Tues 24 March) in the Centre Courtyard.

 

 

Peaks essential to consultation processes

 

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Joint statement from National Shelter, Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia

Embargoed until 9am Wednesday 11 February 2015.

Australia’s housing and homelessness peaks have called on the Abbott Government to make good on their promise to be more consultative by restoring funding to the peak bodies who provide a voice for vulnerable Australians.

The housing and homelessness peaks Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter were told just before Christmas that they would not be funded past 30 June 2015.   Their defunding was the result of the government stripping away $21 million in housing and homelessness funding, which will have a detrimental impact on research, innovation and effectiveness and efficiency of long term service provision in the housing field.

The Community Housing Federation of Australia (CHFA), Homelessness Australia and National Shelter today [Wed 11 Feb] appeared before the Senate Economics Committee to stress the importance of peak bodies in consultative processes.

Adrian Pisarski from National Shelter said that the Government’s announcement on the eve of Christmas 2014 that it was cutting funding from the housing and homelessness peaks was reflective of a government unwilling to listen to input.

“Since all of this talk of a spill the Government has stressed that it will be more consultative.  Good consultation needs to be an ongoing process, and not just something you say you'll do after there is a backlash,” Mr Pisarski said. 

“Organisations like CHFA, Homelessness Australia and National Shelter provide the government with considered, evidence-based advice on policy which reflects a range of perspectives, including that of low income and other vulnerable people.

Glenda Stevens, CEO of Homelessness Australia said that without strong national peak bodies, government decision makers will be free to ignore housing and homelessness, leaving one of the biggest welfare issues: whether families can get and keep a home, out in the cold.

“Far too many Australians are homeless, and many thousands more are in housing stress and at risk of becoming homeless.   It is wrong for Government to try to silence the peaks who speak on behalf of vulnerable Australians,” Ms Stevens said. 

Carol Croce, Executive Director of CHFA, highlighted the peaks concerns that the pre-Christmas cuts flagged a retreat by the Commonwealth from responsibility for housing and homelessness.

“The phrase ‘housing crisis’ now appears frequently in headlines.  But there are hints in the Federalism review that the Commonwealth may try to walk away from its responsibilities to build a better housing system,” Ms Croce said.

 "More than ever the community housing sector needs to be working collaboratively with Government towards a viable solution to the lack of affordable housing.  Diminishing the resources of constructive stakeholders such as the housing peaks is a retrograde step that runs counter to the Government’s support for an active, robust civil society to work with them to solve the most pressing social issues facing Australia” .

ENDS

 

For further comment:

 

CHFA: Carol Croce 0402 017 557

Homelessness Australia: Glenda Stevens 0405 900 360

National Shelter: Adrian Pisarski 0417 975 270

 

All National Shelter wants for Christmas is a robust civil society: instead there are funding cuts

 

23 December, 2014

As Scott Morrison takes the baton on the Social Services ministry, the Commonwealth has flagged a move away from funding housing and homelessness. 

In his last act at DSS Minister Andrews axed funding from research and peak bodies in the area.

On the eve of Christmas the Federal Government has tried to silence the voices of the vulnerable by reneging on contracts with peak bodies including National Shelter, the Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia.

National Shelter Executive Officer, Adrian Pisarski described the cuts as callous, “Joe Hockey has announced the budget will be used as a shock absorber. It seems the government delivers the shock and on behalf of the poor and vulnerable we absorb it.” 

National Shelter points out that whilst the move may save the budget $5m per annum it will cost the homeless and marginally housed their ability to be counted and heard in future negotiations.

“It looks to me like the start of a Commonwealth backsliding out of housing and homelessness” Mr Pisarski said, “Who will now point out how bad things are or dare challenge Ministers or the advice of officials, or rather why will they listen?” he added.

“Peak bodies play an essential role in civil society, speaking up for marginalised people and bringing a broad view of the system to promote fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.  

“Governments are impoverished without the evidence based policy knowledge of peaks and their capacity to provide advice and a voice from the community - this is an attack on civil society, and the long term costs will be worn by our most vulnerable citizens.”

In his time with National Shelter Mr Pisarski has provided advice to 10 Commonwealth Ministers including Minister Andrews and most have been appreciative of the advice and services offered.

“This government has articulated no plan but to await the outcome of an ever increasing number of processes (Federalism, Taxation, Welfare,) while homelessness increases dramatically and our housing supply fails the poor.

“Its easy to defund peaks who don’t deliver a direct service but the advice we provide would save governments from having to fund many services in the future so we must conclude it is a cynical political exercise to silence us before they announce their real intentions.” 

 

ENDS 

Further comment: 

 

Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter Executive Officer  mob. 0417 975 270 or email adrian.pisarski@shelter.org.au    

 

Mary Perkins, National Shelter Chairperson, mob. 0419 919 091.

 

Step forward with continued commitment to ending homelessness

National Shelter media release — 28 March 2013

National Shelter has welcomed the Australian Government, state and territories’ commitment to ending homelessness and their long-term investment in affordable rental housing.

Today the federal government announced Round 5 of the National Rental Affordability Scheme to be delivered in 2015–16.

Additionally, the states and territories matched the federal government’s pledge for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness with a total of $320 million for one year.

Chair of National Shelter, Adrian Pisarski, said that the federal, state and territories’ commitments ensured the continuation of crucial homelessness services and access to affordable housing for low-income earners.

‘The continuation of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness is a significant step forward in ending homelessness.

‘The transitional period must be used to develop a long-term strategic approach to ending homelessness and improving the alignment between housing and homelessness services.

‘The one-year transitional agreement for 2013–14 will ensure services will be able to continue and we look forward to further detail from the Commonwealth, states and territories’ plans.’

For more information:

  • Adrian Pisarski, Chairperson: 0417 975 270
  • Kim Zoe Evans, Communications Officer: 0404 429 203