Social housing key to building back better in ACT

Joint media release, ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and ACT Shelter.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and ACT Shelter today called on the ACT Government to commit to investment in social housing in their plans for community recovery and rebuilding the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “Investment in social housing must be at the centre of the ACT’s community and economic recovery from COVID-19. It would help keep and create jobs while addressing the needs of growing numbers of people who are facing housing stress because of COVID-19.

“The ACT Government has missed at least two opportunities – the Chief Minister’s State of the Territory address yesterday and today’s announcement on Canberra’s Community Recovery plan – to announce investment in social housing. For Canberra’s community to recover we need more, and better, public and community housing.

“The ACT’s affordable housing crisis was highlighted recently in Anglicare’s 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot. The data showed that with the temporary increase to the JobSeeker payment, the proportion of affordable rental properties in the ACT only went from 0% to 2.5%.

“When the JobSeeker supplement ceases in September, we will return to zero affordable rental properties. People on Disability Support Payment, Parenting Payment, and single-income households on the minimum wage will continue to have no affordable housing options. Investing in social housing should be a no-brainer for the Federal and ACT governments.”

ACT Shelter CEO, Mr Travis Gilbert, said: “There is a clear community need for more social housing in the ACT. It makes sense economically and is critical infrastructure for inclusive growth during the next phases of COVID-19. For every dollar invested, direct public investment in social housing is estimated to boost GDP by $1.30.

“The Federal Government also has a key role to play in the social housing space in the ACT. We support the Chief Minister’s call for the Federal Government to waive the ACT’s public housing debt under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. Together with National Shelter, we urge the Federal Government to increase investment in non-market housing supply in Canberra. This is essential economic stimulus to make up for the shortfall in private liquidity and subsequently the ACT’s own-source revenue in the wake of COVID-19.”

Dr Campbell concluded: “The Chief Minister’s State of the Territory address yesterday flagged that the Chief Minister will outline the next steps in the long-term economic and fiscal recovery pathway for Canberra in late August. ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter urge the ACT Government to include social housing as a foundation of the path to community and economic recovery.

“We urge all parties and candidates contesting the 2020 ACT election to put social housing at the centre of their policy platforms. ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter welcome engagement from all candidates on this critical social and economic issue for the ACT community.”

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

ACT Shelter provides strategic advice and advocacy on housing policy issues that affect people with no, or on low to moderate incomes.

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