Much more needed to tackle social housing crisis

Published: 31 Mar 2022

Much more needed to tackle social housing crisis

Federal Labor’s promise to commit $10 billion to build affordable social housing is welcome, but only scratches the surface of what is now a housing crisis in Australia.

If Labor leader Anthony Albanese is serious about reducing housing poverty in Australia, he must commit the party to spending at least $20 billion over the next five years, according to CFMEU Construction & General National Secretary Dave Noonan.

“Housing is a fundamental human necessity.  In fact it is a basic human right, but right now home ownership is simply out of reach for most Australians.”

Successive Australian governments have failed to take the steps necessary to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable housing, resulting in a massive increase in homelessness, rental stress and housing insecurity, Mr Noonan said.

“Quite simply, as skewed tax incentives and low housing stocks have seen property prices skyrocketing and rents rising by an average of 20 per cent in the past two years, social housing construction has failed to keep pace with the growth in waiting lists.”

“The ensuing homelessness and housing insecurity affects parts of the community disproportionately; in particular younger people, First Australians and women over 50.”

Mr Noonan said the small positive gains made, such as industry superannuation investing in affordable housing through National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation bonds, is still too little and too slow to address the problem.

“Australia’s stock of social housing has not grown for 30 years, and the share of social housing has fallen from six per cent to four per cent today, leading to the shortfall of 100,000 dwellings that we now face.”

“At the CFMEU’s national conference this week delegates voted unanimously on a resolution demanding Labor at least double its investment to $20 billion to make inroads into this crisis.”

The Conference also called for a full, independent, inquiry into affordable and social housing policy, including the interaction between federal and state governments, tax policy, future needs, and other relevant factors.

“This is a task for all levels of government, along with financial institutions such as super funds, to substantially increase investment in social and affordable housing immediately.  A failure to act is a failure of leadership, and a betrayal of future generations,” Mr Noonan said.