Jason Falinski MP
Jason Falinski MP has been criticised by a coalition of housing groups. Image – Parliament House, Canberra.
  • Mr Falinski MP drew comparisons between social housing and "housing commission" while criticising affordable rental schemes
  • Community Housing Industry Association, Homelessness Australia and National Shelter have jointly criticised the chairman
  • “We urgently need more investment in long term social housing options," says Homelessness Australia chair

Comments made by the chair of the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue’s Inquiry into Housing Affordability and Supply in Australia have been criticised by a coalition of affordable and housing peak bodies.

Last week, chair Jason Falinski MP drew criticism for drawing comparisons between social housing and “housing commission” while equating affordable rental schemes as rent fixing that drives up prices and limits supply elsewhere.

In a joint statement, the Community Housing Industry Association, Homelessness Australia and National Shelter have labelled the comment the comments as “uninformed and prejudiced,” adding that Mr Falinski’s comments disregard “the important contribution that affordable housing makes to the wellbeing of Australians in housing need.”

The statements were made at an Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National TV event on 9 September.

Also last week, the Women’s Safety Summit issued a statement recognising that “affordable, accessible long-term housing…… is fundamental to the safety and recovery of victim-survivors and must be a priority.

“Every day, homelessness services are having to scramble to find safe places for women and the children to stay.

“We urgently need more investment in long term social housing options.”

Jenny Smith, Homelessness Australia

The coalition did note that the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which has been set up by the federal government, will help to add to the housing supply while boosting construction employment and output.

Community Housing Industry Association CEO, Wendy Hayhurst, added that Mr Falinski’s comments were “out of touch with official thinking.”

“Only last week Infrastructure Australia recommended the design and implementation of programs to increase supply,” noted Ms Hayhurst.

The Australian Infrastructure Plan calls for all levels of government to invest in social and affordable housing, recognising well-maintained and designed social housing provides an abundance of community benefits.

“The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), led by former Finance Minister Cormann, has also recently endorsed the importance of social housing investment,” Ms Hayhurst pointed out.

Adrian Pisarski of National Shelter noted that rents across Australia have increased by an average of 8.5% over the last five years.

“The Inquiry should look at how to make all housing more affordable and available and social housing plays a vital role protecting low income and vulnerable families,” he said.

“Markets fail people on low incomes.”

“It is crucial that all levels of government work collaboratively with the sector to address this most pressing of issues for Australians in housing need,” the joint statement concluded.

Last month, a report from Compass Housing suggested there would be a 200,000 shortfall in social housing in Australia by 2030. In June, data from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said that although stock of social housing was up, it was not enough.

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