View of the Melbourne skyline from the period Hawthorne house and rooftop balcony.
  • Recently released figures highlight a shortage of public housing in New South Wales and Queensland.
  • Experts say that a rise in rental prices is one of the causes of the current surge in demand.
  • They say government intervention is needed to provide access to housing that runs counter to current rental and ownership systems.
  • Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.

Demand is outstripping the supply of public housing across Australia, new figures show, as soaring house prices and the tight rental market across regional Australia have led to what some experts are calling a “crisis”.

Data recently released by the Queensland government shows that thousands of state residents are currently stuck in a public housing bottleneck.

It revealed that 2,000 households were added to the social housing registry in Queensland last year, with 27,933 applications currently pending for public housing.

“Considering the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market statewide, it is not surprising to see an increase in the number of people seeking help through the housing registry,” said Queensland Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch at the ABC.

The Queensland Council of Social Service said the list of social housing registry numbers had grown 78% in the past five years.

This follows data released in June which showed more than 50,000 households across New South Wales were already on the waiting list for social housing.

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW cited internal modeling which showed NSW was short of at least 70,000 social housing units.

“There is simply no strategy to fill this critical gap,” CHIA said in a press release.

“Australian states have started to respond to the housing crisis. NSW has the biggest waiting list of them all.

Likewise, figures from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment show increasing pressure on housing supply, which he says requires government action.

Data released at the end of September showed that 29,785 new homes were built in Sydney in fiscal year 2020-21, down from the 30,190 homes completed in fiscal year 2015-16, and around 8% of less than the 32,464 dwellings completed in fiscal year 2019-20 fiscal year.

Luke Achterstraat, executive director of the NSW Property Council, said recent figures reflected the council’s concerns about affordability and housing supply.

“The NSW Intergenerational Report says we need 42,000 homes built per year. With an existing under-supply of nearly 50,000 homes statewide, falling behind over 12,000 additional homes this year puts us in dire straits and underscores the need for positive solutions, ”said Achterstraat.

“Without immediate action, aspiring landlords and tenants will face continuing and growing affordability issues. “

Rental stress is driving demand for social housing

Leo Patterson Ross, chief executive of Tenant’s Union of NSW, told Business Insider Australia he has seen rental stress skyrocket since the start of the pandemic.

The tenants union heard more and more that it was pushing members to make tough decisions so they could stay on their property.

When you pay too much rent, it means “you’ve sacrificed somewhere else,” Ross said.

Migration out of cities in record numbers in response to pandemic lockdowns has exacerbated existing trends, he said.

Capitals lost 11,800 people to internal migration, the largest quarterly net loss on record, in the first three months of 2021, according to recently released ABS figures.

“We really saw the most aggressive increases [in rent] along the coast, ”Ross said, referring to NSW and Queensland.

Ross said these movers, who still earned the same income as when they were in capital cities, were inadvertently raising rents due to the functioning of the Australian rental market.

“The way we’ve structured our rental system is that it’s a competition,” Ross said. “It means that [landlords] will increase the price to match demand and to match people trying to find a home.

He said that because of the movers’ encroachment on regional towns, people unable to pay rent increases were “being kicked out to make way for people coming from out of town.”

Ross said one way to correct this imbalance was for the government to create an affordable housing supply to create stable “availability and prices” outside of the current market.

“Because there is no real competition for owners, in particular [on] the low end of the private market, there is very little competition that would change their behavior and make them work to keep their tenants, ”Ross said.

“A significant supply of truly affordable housing would provide that competition. “

In a statement, Deputy Treasurer and Minister of Housing, Homelessness, and Social and Community Housing Michael Sukkar said the federal government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) was making progress important in supporting social and affordable housing.

He said he had supported more than 13,000 social and affordable properties in three years.

“The government is moving across the housing spectrum as well, with around $ 9 billion expected to be spent in the next fiscal year on housing and homelessness,” Sukkar said.

However, data from Homelessness Australia shows that the federal government has cut investments in social housing and homelessness by $ 1 billion over the past decade.

During this period, Australian rental prices jumped 30% and house prices rose 50%.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, spokesperson for the Greens for housing, told Business Insider Australia that there was “enormous urgency” to invest in public and community housing.

“We are in a housing crisis, plain and simple. Our society is becoming more and more inequitable as access to permanent housing and property has become completely out of reach for so many people.

“One million new homes will be needed – across the country – to clear waiting lists for public housing and ensure universal housing. “

Wealth inequalities are increasing due to the Australian market

Brendan Coates, director of the economic policy program at the Grattan Institute, told Business Insider Australia that the global story over the past two years has been a growing divide between the haves and have-nots driven by Australian property markets. and rental.

“Wealth inequalities are widening, mainly because wealth is accelerating rapidly,” said Coates, driven by investment in real estate.

He said he expects the effects to continue to emerge from the pandemic and agreed that government intervention was needed to reverse some of the impacts.

“If housing is unaffordable for low-income people, in particular, it would mean putting more money in their pockets, so that they can afford to compete in the housing market, or so that they can afford to get a stable rent, ”he said, as well as with policies that increase the rent assistance rate.

Coates said one of the most effective ways to counter this, along with more effective taxation of savings and accumulated wealth, was through the housing market.

“A big part of the solution is to fix housing – that would go a long way in reducing the effects of slowly rising inequalities. “

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