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More about Social Housing

In 2020 and 2021  Anti-Poverty Week partnered with the Everybody’s Home campaign to help ensure all Australians have a safe and decent place to call home.  Safe and affordable housing is an important solution to ending poverty.

Rents have surged across the country, with regional areas experiencing soaring rents.  According to CoreLogic’s Rental Review for the March 2022 Quarter, national rental rates have surged by 8.7% over the year, capital cities increasing by 8% and regional Australia by 10.7%. The Anglicare Australia 2022 Rental Availability Snapshot 28/4/22, found that “The major drop in rental listings, and the halving of the vacancy rate, means that there is even more pressure on renters on low incomes. They need to find an affordable home in a tight market, while competing with record numbers of people who can no longer afford to buy. This has led to a market that has never been less affordable.”

Commonwealth Rent Assistance hasn’t had a real increase (beyond CPI) since 2000 and only covers a third or a quarter of actual rent paid.  Nationally, people relying on JobSeeker Payment were paying $220 per week rent in December 2021 and only receiving ~$67 per week in Commonwealth Rent Assistance (national median figures) – that is a $153 a week gap.  For a single parent with one or two children, the median rent paid in December 2021 was $315 per week, the median CRA received was ~$76 per week – a gap of $239 per week.[i]

Even the Government’s own Treasury review concluded: “The maximum value of Commonwealth Rent Assistance has not kept pace with market rents, especially for low-income renters.”[ii] There were over 1.4 million households receiving inadequate Commonwealth Rent Assistance in December 2021, including over 300,000 age pensioners.[iii]  While people aged over 65 have a poverty rate of 10%, this rises to 41% if they are renting privately.[iv]

[i] DSS Demographic Data, December 2021.

[ii] Treasury, Retirement Income Review Final Report, November 2020.

[iii] DSS Demographic Data, December 2021.

[iv] Davidson, P., Bradbury, B., Hill, T., and Wong, M. (2020), Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2 – Who is Affected? ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 4, Sydney: ACOSS.

Among the best ways to broaden Australia’s economic recovery strategy would be a large-scale national social housing program. Minimal construction for most of the past 25 years means that national social housing supply has effectively halved since the 1990s“, Professor Bill Randolph of UNSW City Futures Research Centre.

Get the latest data and call to action from Everybody’s Home.

Read our Poverty and Housing Fast Fact, updated in October 2021, our 18/10/21 Media Release People on low incomes hit hard by skyrocketing regional rents, and watch our 20 second video: Let’s unlock poverty and housing stress APW 21.

Everybody’s Home released new data in Homelessness Week 2021  that found COVID-essential workers in the care and services sector are facing a rental affordability crisis.   Rent on an apartment would cost at least 1/3 of their weekly income in 84% of Australia’s  geographic regions and more than 2/3 in 9 regions (NSW: Sydney CBD, Lower North Shore, Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs; Queensland: Gold Coast South; ACT: Inner South, South, Inner North, North).

See also the important report Nowhere to Go produced by Equity Economics and released on 12 July 2021.  It was commissioned by the Everybody’s Home campaign ahead of the Women’s Safety Summit and Homelessness Week 2021. The report estimated that the lack of long term social housing is leading to 7,690 women a year returning to violent partners and 9,120 women a year becoming homeless.  If the Commonwealth Government invested in 16,800 additional social housing units the  $7.6 billion cost would be dwarfed by immediate economic benefits of $15.3 billion and the creation of 47,000 new jobs.  

A survey of 47 leading economists and 40 senior experts from government, industry and academia released in February 2021 found a strong preference to direct Federal government stimulus to social rather than private housing. Almost seven in ten (69%) of respondents agreed that: Coming out of COVID, stimulating housing is best achieved through social/affordable housing investment rather than private market.