Property Market Boom Fuels Public Housing Crisis


Social housing could once again become the “tenure of choice” for blue-collar workers as rent and mortgage costs continue to grow.

Median house prices have hit all-time-highs in Sydney while Melbourne has now exceeded the $1-million median. Brisbane is expected to follow suit in the lead up to the 2032 Olympics.

The price growth was not limited to major cities with regional areas such as Byron Bay pushing well past the $1 million mark in May.

Among regions facing an “affordable housing crisis” is Apollo Bay, in Victoria’s south coast, where many people who lived and worked in the region before the pandemic can no longer afford to buy or rent.

A social housing draft plan was discussed and opportunities identified to provide for residents through the state’s $5.3-billion Big Housing Build at the Colac Otway Shire Council meeting last week.

The council is considering a number of measures including introducing tiny houses and banning holiday rentals, such as Airbnb, to ensure there were enough homes for people living on “modest” incomes.

Social housing shortfall looming

There was also a looming shortfall of social housing with future demand due to exceed new stock, according to a report by Compass Housing Services.

Report lead author David Adamson said despite good intentions the states had lost control of the issue and the problem was now too big for them to handle, with 196,000 new social housing units needed by 2031.

“There are approximately 169,000 households on social housing waiting lists across Australia and under the current system most of them will never be allocated a property,” Adamson said.

“Over the next decade the states and territories are planning to build just 66,000 social housing properties. Even if they hit their targets, they will have undershot the existing level of demand by 60 per cent.”

Public housing supply and shortfall

StateCommitmentsShortfall on waiting listShortfall to 2031

^Source: Compass Housing Services

The report investigated the supply of social housing and found that in the decade after World War II, 670,000 public homes were built.

For a period, social housing was the “tenure of choice for many working families” but the program gradually gave way to policies promoting home ownership, the report found.

Despite soaring numbers of homes being added to the national market each year, home ownership, including homes with a mortgage, dropped from 68 per cent in 2011 to 67 per cent in 2016 with the 2021 Census results to be revealed next year.

Everybody’s Home national spokesperson Kate Colvin said federal and state governments and private sector needed to intervene urgently.

“A ballooning number of Australians on low and middle incomes simply cannot compete for housing in the booming private sales and rental market,” Colvin said

“We need a breakthrough in co-operation quickly, otherwise Australia will confront a social catastrophe.”


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