Opinion: social and affordable housing in urgent need of replenishing
There is an urgent need to replenish the vastly inadequate stock of social and affordable housing in Australia and some state governments have begun to take action to increase supply, but the scale of the problem is vast.
The solutions to our housing crisis in Victoria and nationally cannot be met by the state government alone. The Social and Affordable Housing Contribution announced last week in Victoria is expected to deliver an additional 1700 new homes and create 7200 jobs each year.
We need to come up with solutions that bring all the key players to the party. State, federal, and local governments should be working together on a national plan and developers who are benefiting from the housing boom should also be contributing.
While it wasn’t entirely unexpected to hear the Urban Development Institute’s unfavourable response to the Victorian Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Contribution announcement, it was disappointing.
To suggest that a modest 1.75% levy on the value of developments of three or more dwellings from 2024, will negatively impact home buyers is simply scaremongering.
The Institute should absorb this cost and acknowledge the benefits it will deliver to the construction industry and improve the lives of many people in local communities across Victoria who will have access to affordable housing.
Developers typically make between 16 to 25% profit margins on projects of this scale and a social contribution of 1.75% of these significant windfalls is surely a minimum expectation.
It has never been more difficult to buy or rent a property in Australia if you are a low to moderate-income earner. We have seen a huge increase nationally, in the number of people who are in stable employment but priced out of the market.
Among this cohort are nurses, paramedics, teachers, older women, and men who work in low-income jobs and have little to no chance of buying a home or accessing affordable rentals in the communities where they work.
House prices in Melbourne increased by 19.5% from September 2020 to September 2021 according to the ABS and rents increased in the same period by 8-12.4% across Victoria. These alarming statistics more than justify a requirement that developers be a small part of the solution to our housing crisis, given the significant financial rewards they reap.
Homelessness is on the rise in every state and territory across the country. A Victorian parliamentary committee report in 2021 found one in 57 Victorians had accessed a government-funded homelessness service.
Of those 76% could not find long-term housing and 62% were unable to access medium-term transitional housing. These are not just statistics – this is how tens of thousands of Victorians are now trying to survive.
For decades now the Commonwealth Government has backed away from its responsibilities in the provision of social and affordable housing, despite being the instigator of large-scale public housing development in the post-war period in the 1940s.
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