Rental affordability in Cairns is in crisis as two new reports point to the urgent need for the federal government to invest in social housing. According to SQM research, rents for Cairns have increased at breakneck pace, rising by 5.4% over the past year. The news comes as separate reports from the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership and the Grattan Institute demonstrate how a combination of rising rents and lack of social housing have pushed more Australians into housing stress, homelessness, and poverty. The ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership demonstrates the yawning gap left by federal inaction on social and affordable housing. Despite Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia stepping up to invest $10 billion over the next few years, only 23,000 new homes will be added to public and community housing stock even though 155,000 households are registered on social housing waiting lists and more than 400,000 households are in need of affordable housing. And the Grattan Institute shows how social housing has fallen from six per cent of all housing to less than four per cent since 1991. The decline means a greater proportion of low income households have to compete in the private rental market. “The housing market is brutal and bruising for anyone on a low income right now. Housing should be a basic right, but it’s turned into a sadistic, high stakes competition.” Everybody’s Home spokesperson Kate Colvin said. “It’s good to see state governments try to step up, but the truth is, only the Federal Government has the fiscal firepower required to make a significant difference in reversing the decade of decline in social housing investment. The states can not be left to try and do it themselves.” “The record rent rises across the country shows that there really is no time to lose. We are in the midst of a crisis. The Federal Government needs to take action now.”
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