social housing
Australia is falling well behind of meeting demand for housing. Image – Canva.
  • A report has revealed state governments have limited ability to house those on waiting lists
  • Even if the states hit their current targets, shortfall will be around 100,00 homes
  • Calls for federal government to intervene

A “social housing timebomb” is ticking, after a report released today warned there will be a shortage of almost 200,000 homes across Australia by 2031.

The Compass Housing Services report has found that state governments have limited capacity to house the people on their waiting lists while having no capacity for future demand.

Despite good intentions, the states have lost control of the issue with the number of units needed in ten years simply too big for them to handle, said the lead author of the report, Professor David Adamson.

“There are approximately 169,000 households on social housing waiting lists across Australia and under the current system most of them will never be allocated a property,” he said.

“Over the next decade the states and territories are planning to build just 66,000 social housing properties. Even if they hit their targets, they will have undershot the existing level of demand by 60%, or more than 100,000 homes.

Professor David Admamson, lead author

“If you include the additional demand from population growth over the period in question the shortfall increases to more than 196,000 homes.”

The shortfall for 2031 is expected to be 65,411 for New South Wales, with the current waiting list at over 38,000.

Victoria needs to build over 49,000 social houses with the shortfall for the current waiting list already at 19,239.

Already, the state has committed to 31,600, more than what the New South Wales and Queensland governments combined have committed towards new social housing, the report said.

Co-author Martin Kennedy said the issues facing social housing are part of a broader housing crisis that has been building for the past three decades.

“Home ownership rates have collapsed, the share of renters in housing stress is increasing and social housing waiting lists are out of control,” he said.

“The Commonwealth insists social housing is a state responsibility, but that arrangement isn’t working.”

“If we keep expecting the states to fix a problem that is clearly beyond them, an increasing proportion of the population will experience socially damaging levels of inequality and financial hardship.

Martin Kennedy, co-author

Calls for federal intervention

Kate Colvin, the national spokesperson for housing advocacy group Everybody’s Home, said it is paramount for the federal government to take the lead in addressing the shortage.

“The federal-state blame game is arid and gets us nowhere. A ballooning number of Australians on low and middle incomes simply cannot compete for housing in the booming private sales and rental market.

“We need a breakthrough in co-operation quickly, otherwise Australia will confront a social catastrophe. State governments simply do not have the fiscal firepower to build enough social housing. Unless the Federal Government steps up, homelessness services and other health and welfare services will be overwhelmed.”

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