With the federal election scheduled less than a month away, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) has unveiled its 2022 Federal Election Platform, requesting that all political parties invest in the development of at least 25,000 new social and affordable rental homes every year.
In the report, which includes both recommendations and suggestions as to how those recommendations could be met, the national community association body highlighted a need for a great investment in affordable rental housing.
“Social and affordable rental housing shortages across Australia mean that many households are paying far more rent than they can afford,” the report stated.
According to the City Futures Research Centre’s 2021 report COVID-19: Rental housing and homelessness impacts in Australia, it was then estimated that there would be around 15,500 social and affordable homes would be built over the next three years.
Figures published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in 2018 then claimed that there were estimates that 727,300 new social and affordable homes would be needed between 2016 and 2036, or an average of 36,365 per year.
According to the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services, there were 163,508 Australians on waiting lists for social housing in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 5 per cent, and an almost 15 per cent increase since 2017.
“Many are being pushed towards homelessness. At the same time much of our existing social housing is in poor condition, fails to meet basic energy standards and lacks climate resilience, making it expensive to run for both tenants and housing providers,” the report said.
Subsequently, CHIA has called for seven actions to be taken by political parties, including the “construction of 25,000 new social and affordable rental homes, per annum, by the community housing industry”.
The body also called for a national build-to-rent-to-buy program, the establishment of a “national climate resilience fund” to support the retrofitting or renewal of poorly performing, or poorly located, social housing, and a dedicated national housing agency responsible for the National Housing Strategy.
“Effectively tackling these complex problems is challenging. But with the political will to do so, and guided by a long term national housing strategy, the challenges are not insurmountable,” the report added.
CHIA’s call-out mirrors recommendations made by homelessness advocacy body Everybody’s Home earlier this year, which included a need for 25,000 social homes built every year in its pre-budget submission.
But these requests for greater affordable rental housing also come after reports suggesting that rents are increasing across the country.
A report by SQM Research released this month stated that the national weekly rent, as of 12 April, was then over $495 – a year-on-year increase of almost 11 per cent.
This increase appears to be felt by those on government assistance, with figures released by the Productivity Commission earlier this year stating that almost half of Australians receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance were spending at least 30 per cent of their income on rent.