Federal Budget must focus on rental stress – VCOSS

The Australians for Affordable Housing campaign went to Canberra last week to call for an immediate increase in the maximum rate of rent assistance and an Affordable Housing Growth Fund in the upcoming Budget. Renters need both and we think the Federal Government has to walk and chew gum at the same time on housing policy.

Australians for Affordable Housing (AAH) is a coalition of national housing, welfare and community sector organisations, including VCOSS. Interestingly, we were joined at last week’s launch of our budget statement by the Property Council of Australia’s Residential Development Council, which is also looking on government to produce a long-term strategy to improve housing affordability.

Ahead of a meeting with the new Housing Minister Robert McClelland, we called for:

• An initial down payment of $2.5 billion in the 2012-13 Budget to provide for 8,300 new homes for low income households.

•An Affordable Housing Growth Fund, with an annual allocation of $2.5 billion a year from the 2013-14 Budget to provide 100,000 affordable homes over five years.

•An immediate boost to Commonwealth Rent Assistance of between $16 to $25 per week to lift 100,000 private renters out of housing stress.

Figures commissioned for the campaign from NATSEM show that rates of housing stress for renters are more than double those with a mortgage, so rental housing is where any plan to address affordability problems needs to start. New affordable housing supply is critical, but there are more than 450,000 renters in housing stress right now and they can’t wait for new housing to be built.

Rents have risen at twice the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance in the last five years, leaving low income households out of pocket as they struggle to pay the rent and make ends meet.

See the media coverage of the launch, including the report on ABC Radio’s The World Today

And watch this space for the next edition of VCOSS’s magazine Insight which is focused on housing affordability and what the priorities for reform and investment are. It will be launched in late March at the ACOSS national conference.

Kate Colvin is VCOSS Policy and Public Affairs manager and chair of Australians for Affordable Housing.

SOURCE: Media Release, ”

Federal Budget must focus on rental stress”, VCOSS, 15 Feb 2012

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