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Budget 2022: At least $2 billion a year needed to solve housing crisis

·3-min read
Homeless person sleeping on park bench and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
Will there be more money for social and affordable housing? We'll find out when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down the 2022 Budget later this month. (Source: Getty)

At least $2 billion per annum over the forward estimates period is needed to cover the shortfall in social and affordable housing in the 2022 Budget, according to affordable housing and homelessness experts.

Australia is facing a housing-affordability crisis, with several Australian suburbs experiencing vacancy rates below zero per cent.

This means there’s immense demand for rental properties in many areas, and homes are being leased as soon as they hit the market.

National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski said investing in social and affordable housing would reduce pressure in rental markets, particularly in the regions.

“‘The most important spend the federal government should make is an investment in social and affordable housing,” Pisarski said.

Pisarski would also like to see the Federal Government allocate at least $2 billion per annum for the forward estimates period to match recent spending announcements by state governments of over $10 billion in the next four years.

Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, said the surging costs of housing was “swallowing up ever larger chunks of household budgets”.

“Some regions of Australia - such as Tasmania, or the NSW and Queensland coasts - have seen rents surge more than 20 per cent,” Colvin said.

“This is not just breaking family budgets, it’s pushing families into homelessness.”

According to Colvin, the asking rent on a three-bedroom home had jumped by 13.5 per cent in just 12 months and the purchase price on the same property ballooned by 20.2 per cent.

Colvin would also like to see spending of more than $2 billion on social and affordable housing in the Budget.

She said federal government funding for social and Indigenous housing was only budgeted at $1.6 billion for 2023-24 compared to more than $2 billion in 2013-14.

“Indexed for inflation, it should be $2.7 billion,” Colvin said.

“In 1994, social housing made up 6 per cent of all housing. Today, it is just 4 per cent.”

She also said chronic underinvestment in social and affordable housing was aggravating the cost to other areas of the Budget.

When people don’t have homes to live in, taxpayers pick up the added costs of addressing homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, alcohol/substance abuse and foregone tax revenue.

Australians also need higher rental-assistance payments

Pisarski has also called for an immediate 50 per cent increase to the maximum Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment in the 2022 Budget, which is a regular extra payment for people who already get Centrelink welfare payments to help them pay rent.

He’d also like to see a review of this scheme “to improve its efficiency and effectiveness in meeting rental affordability for recipients”.

Pisarski also called for a lift to the borrowing guarantee for the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by $2 billion.

He said this would “enable community housing providers the borrowing capacity to leverage recent state government funding commitments”.

NHFIC was set up in 2018 to provide loans, investments, grants and loan guarantees to encourage investment in affordable housing.

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