Barnaby Joyce’s return to the deputy prime ministership is an opportunity to put the soaring cost of regional housing and the shortfall of social housing at the centre of national affairs, according to Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness.
In 2019, Mr Joyce recognised the affordability crisis facing renters in the bush when he said:
“Certainly $555 or thereabouts a fortnight is difficult, especially in regional areas.
“Especially if your rent’s $250 a week, well, you’re not really going to get by.”
Since then regional rents have soared as people on big city incomes have moved to the regions to take advantage of post pandemic work-from-home opportunities.
According to SQM research rents for houses have increased in the following regional NSW locations over the last 12 months:
- NSW North Coast 18.2 per cent
- NSW South Coast 24.9 per cent
- NSW Central Tablelands 12.9 per cent
- NSW Broken Hill/Dubbo 25.4 per cent
- NSW Hunter Region. 11.6 per cent
- NSW Murray Region. 7.9 per cent
- NSW Riverina Region. 10.6 per cent
Everybody’s Home national spokesperson, Kate Colvin said an expansion of social and affordable housing was the best way to balance the system and ease the pressure of the boom.
“Barnaby Joyce has demonstrated a keen understanding of the regional rental crisis, a crisis that has deteriorated badly over the last year.
“Housing has been completely upended in the bush and on the coast as people with big city incomes take advantage of working from home. This is pushing many existing residents to the brink of homelessness.
“Expanding social and affordable housing would relieve this pressure. Social and affordable housing gives people on low and modest incomes greater choice and security. This is also really important for people recovering from major life disruptions, such as health scares or relationship breakdowns.
“Many of our regional communities would also benefit from the employment boost of building more homes. Home construction has the second-largest economic multiplier of all the 114 industries that make up our economy. The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation estimates that for every $1 million spent on residential construction, nine existing jobs are supported while three new ones are created.”