For media enquiries, please contact our Executive Officer, Adrian Pisarski, on 0417 975 270 or email: 

New Rental Affordability Index shows dire picture for Australian households


Australia’s first ever Rental Affordability Index reveals the depth and extremity of housing stress faced by renters in the current market. Both low income and moderate income households suffer poverty due to high rental costs. 

Housing stress occurs when households pay 30% of income or more on rent. Low income households are required to pay around 65% of income on rent to access a tenancy. This means that rents are extremely unaffordable. 

The Rental Affordability Index has been created by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics & Planning. It will be released on a quarterly basis. 

Low income households – according to the report – are in a dire situation, single income households are the worst off and rent costs are now locking low and moderate income households out of inner cities. The report gives a blow by blow account of rental affordability in Australia’s major cities.

Read the full media release here.

Mini summit must tackle housing affordability

Media Release 1 October 2015


Peak body National Shelter calls on the mini summit to tackle housing affordability including putting reforms to negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions, previously ruled out, back on the table.

Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said “If Prime Minister Turnbull’s mini summit is intent on addressing reform then changing tax settings to reduce house price inflation must be among the issues to be addressed.”

We currently have a tax system which inflates the market by pitting investors against would be owner occupiers for the same properties but providing the wrong incentives around affordable housing according to National Shelter.

“Ultimately renters become the fall guy in house price inflation. Purchasers have low interest rates as a compensation, investors get tax relief, but rents have consistently outstripped inflation and renters have no compensating fallback.

"Housing is the largest single household cost and current settings push people to outer areas away from jobs, education and another opportunities. Low income households then face long commutes, expensive transport costs and experience social and economic exclusion.

"Tax reform can do more to counter the high cost of housing and must be coupled to a new affordable housing supply strategy to improve the economic and social participation of low income households and put a break on rising homelessness.

“If the mini summit is fair dinkum then reforming negative gearing and CGT exemptions must be back on the table despite the Abbott government having ruled them out.” Mr Pisarski concluded.



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. 

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


Capital gains tax discounts undermine affordability and must be reformed

Affordable housing peak body National Shelter has renewed its call for tax reform on housing, citing figures released by Greens leaders today.
Figures prepared for the Greens by the Parliamentary Budget Office show potential revenue savings of between $74b and $127b over ten years by reforming Capital Gains Tax Discounts introduced in 1999.
National Shelter has argued that the discounts, introduced by the Howard government, are over generous but also have perverse impacts on property markets.
“CGT discounts combine with negative gearing to encourage speculative investment in rental property, inflate house prices and do very little to add new supply,’ according to National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski.
“By providing unnecessary incentives to investors who compete for the same limited supply of property with owner occupiers, these measures have helped inflate prices and reduce owner occupation levels.”
“Nor have they kept a lid on rents as rents have risen faster than CPI, faster than incomes and put hundreds of thousands of households into poverty.” Mr Pisarski added.
National Shelter has supported measures suggested by the Henry Tax review to reduce the benefits of CGT discounts and negative gearing but today’s figures suggest more may be done.
“The figures released today show all parties must relook at reviewing the tax treatment of housing.”
“With a million households in housing stress and over a hundred thousand experiencing homelessness we need additional funding for affordable housing programs and expanded homelessness responses.”
“So far we have only seen cuts and delays to housing assistance and denial of the need for reforms in these areas.”
“The government is also considering withdrawing from housing when we need additional spending and these figures show where the money might come from. We congratulate the Greens on this initiative.” Mr Pisarski concluded.



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.” 



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.