Time to commit to action on housing affordability

22 August 2013

The peak housing advocacy organisation for low income Australians, National Shelter, today expressed deep concern that neither major party has addressed the greatest cause of financial hardship for very many Australian households – the lack of affordable housing.

“We are half way through the election campaign, and despite repeated calls across the community, neither Labor nor the Coalition have offered any direct affordable housing policies”, said National Shelter Chair, Adam Farrar.“There have been two leaders’ debates; but a deafening silence on one of Australia’s largest policy challenges.”

“We have heard repeated talk of ‘cost of living pressures’ in this campaign.  But housing is the largest item of expenditure in the budgets of all Australian households, and low income households pay a third more of their income on housing than high income earners.”

“With rents rising faster than incomes over the past decade, it is hard to take election talk of concern over living costs seriously without policies on housing affordability from either major party.”There is still time for the major parties to announce their housing polices.

National Shelter calls on the major parties to make the following five commitments that would make a real difference to low and moderate income Australians:

  • Make the National Rental Affordability Scheme permanent and provide 50,000 new incentives to support investment in low cost rental housing
  • Establish a social housing growth fund to turn around the decline in social housing for low income households
  • Increase funding for homelessness services to the levels needed to halve homelessness by 2020
  • Immediately lift the level of Commonwealth Rental Assistance and review its effectiveness in helping to meet increasing rents
  • Report on the effects of housing taxation and on implanting the recommendations of the Henry review on the tax treatment of housing.

Less than a year ago National Shelter released its full housing policy priorities statement, 'Meeting housing challenges'. In that policy National Shelter encouraged all sides of politics to agree to address Australia’s housing challenges and to develop a National Housing Strategy.

At this point in the election campaign, it is time for the parties to take up that challenge.

For the full National Shelter priority statement: Meeting housing challenges (summary)

For more information:
Adam Farrar, Chairperson: 0409 669 936