EXTRACT from an article by Julie Lawson, Hal Pawson, Laurence Troy, L., Ryan van den Nouwelant
Australia needs to triple its small stock of social housing over the next 20 years to cover both the existing backlog and newly emerging need.
That is the central finding of our new research report on the housing infrastructure needs of low-income earners, published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). By our reckoning, 25 years of inadequate investment has left Australia facing a shortfall of 433,000 social housing dwellings. The current construction rate – little more than 3,000 dwellings a year – does not even keep pace with rising need, let alone make inroads into today’s backlog.
The report also shows that Australia needs to avoid overly complex private financing “innovations”. These have proven ineffective elsewhere and were recently abolished by the UK Treasury.
Our modelling of household need and procurement costs shows that direct public investment, coupled with more efficient financing through the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation, is the best way to tackle this policy challenge. Compared with subsidising the operating income of a commercially financed program, the lifetime cost of the first year of house building is A$1.6 billion less. That’s a 24% saving to the public purse.
Lack of investment takes its toll
From 1945, state and territory governments, financially supported by Canberra, maintained public programs that built 8,000-14,000 dwellings a year for half a century.
From 1996, however, social housing largely slipped from the Australian government agenda. Dedicated ongoing funding to states and territories was at “starvation levels”. Public house building plunged to today’s residual output, except for a short-lived GFC-stimulus-funded recovery from 2008-11.
SOURCE: Lawson, J., Pawson, H., Troy, L., van den Nouwelant, R. “Australia Needs to Triple its Social Housing by 2036:This is the best way to do it.” The Conversation, 15 November 2018
Lawson, J., Pawson, H., Troy, L., van den Nouwelant, R. and Hamilton, C. (2018) Social housing as infrastructure: an investment pathway AHURI Final Report No. 306, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia