15 March 2022
After a year of surging rents and house price growth, an increasing number of low and middle-income Australians face severe housing stress or the risk of homelessness.
This letter has been written by the Everybody’s Home campaign - a coalition of housing, homelessness and welfare organisations aiming to achieve change so that everybody has a safe and decent place to live. The letter has been co-signed by Mind CEO Gill Callister along with a number of other CEOs from corporates, unions, community and faith organisations.
Every Australian deserves the security and stability of a home. But after a year of surging rents and house price growth, an increasing number of low and middle-income Australians face severe housing stress or the risk of homelessness.
This letter is a united call from organisations including corporates, unions, community and faith organisations, for your government to use the coming Budget to improve housing affordability for Australians struggling in the rental market.
Australia’s housing crisis has worsened during COVID-19.
In the year to December 2021, rents across Australia increased 9.4 per cent while capital city house prices were up 21 per cent. By contrast wages grew on average only 2.2 per cent.
Regional Australia is particularly hard hit with rents increasing 12.1 per cent, and house prices increasing 26 per cent in the past year.
These rent rises are having a devastating impact on rental affordability. People on the lowest incomes, particularly those on Jobseeker are worst affected. In 2021, 45.7 per cent of people receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) spent more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, up from 40.5 per cent in 2019. In 2020, when the Government increased income support, rent stress plummeted to 29.4 per cent.
Despite worsening rental affordability federal funding for social housing continues to decline. In 2013-14 federal funding for social and Indigenous housing was over $2 billion, but on current forecasts the Commonwealth will spend just $1.6 billion in 2023-24.
Accounting for population growth and inflation this is a decline in real terms of more than $1 billion.
This Budget we are calling on you to make homes for affordable for renters by:
- investing in a program to enable the delivery of 25,000 social and affordable housing properties per year, and
- increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance by at least 50 per cent.
Investing in social housing realises significant economic and social benefits. Building 25,000 social and affordable homes per year would generate annual economic output of $12.7 billion and create 15,700 jobs.
It would also relieve pressure on homelessness, mental health and domestic violence services, giving more Australians the chance to look after their health and participate in paid work.
In regional Australia, more social and affordable housing would help secure the workforce needed to grow local economies.
Providing adequate income support for people to afford rent will make everyday life more affordable for thousands of families, enabling them to stay housed and cover the basics.
We, the undersigned, ask you to re-examine this important area of public policy and commit to an appropriate level of investment.