NEW APPROACH NEEDED BY GOVERNMENTS TO HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

Federal and State governments need to take a ‘new approach’ to housing affordability to overcome the current crisis in Australia.
Habitat for Humanity (HfH) Victoria Executive Director, Philip Curtis, made the call when handing over the 59th HfH home in Victoria to a single mother of three who has been renting sub-standard houses for the past 20 years.
Nicole Schryver moved into the house in the HfH Yea Heights Estate in Yea with her three children, two of whom have high-functioning autism. It will be the 18th time in 20 years that she has moved; sometimes considering the option of living in her car and other times in accommodation which would be condemned by the Department of Health.
Mr. Curtis said: “The current approaches by government at a Federal and State level are simply not working. They do not provide effective support to those on low and very low incomes to access the housing market.
“We need to rethink the approach to the sector, how land is released and developed and various tax policies; particularly those related to Capital Gains Tax discounts and negative gearing.”
The most recent report from the Grattan Institute confirms that outright homeownership is continuing to fall across the community and that younger people seeking to enter the housing market have been significantly affected in the past decade as house prices have spiralled and wage increases have lagged.
The Salvation Army reported last month, with research undertaken by Roy Morgan, that “nearly 10 million Australians believe the dream of owning their own home is over”.
The Housing Australia report released mid last year by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia highlighted that Australia’s housing affordability crisis was likely to continue for another 40 years unless there were major changes to the market.
Mr. Curtis acknowledged the commitment of the Andrews Labor Government to $45 million as part of its new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan and the Turnbull Coalition’s commitment to delivering $117.2 million to support frontline services addressing homelessness through the Transitional National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), which ends in June this year (2018).
“Despite these initiatives, low income and very low-income families (families with multiple children and annual incomes between $30,000 and $50,000), who are often dependent upon Centrelink benefits, have been severely affected by the crisis around access to affordable housing,” said Mr. Curtis.
“These families often receive little benefit and opportunity to move into decent affordable housing and continue to live in poor, unsuitable and often substandard housing.
“They remain disadvantaged, vulnerable and at risk without access to stable, secure and affordable housing. In the interim, the dream of ‘home ownership’ continues to slip further away; if it has not already escaped their grasp.”
The HfH approach to affordable housing program incorporates Partner family “sweat equity” in helping to build their home, volunteer labour, corporate partnerships and community support.
“This approach helps build strength, stability and self-reliance and creates a pathway out of poverty for each of our Partner families,” added Mr. Curtis.
“We believe in the empowerment that comes from home ownership which, over time, helps to generate improved outcomes in education, employment, health and lifestyle for children and parents. —
“We see families and individuals become less reliant on government services and the supportive services provided by other agencies and become more independent and more engaged with their community.”

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