Social Housing. Image: Pexels
  • A new UNSW survey indicates the government does not pay enough attention to how the housing system impacts the economy
  • The suggestion of social housing received widespread support as a solution
  • Worries stem form over-reliance on Australia's current ultra-low interest rates

Australia’s economists have spoken, the government does not pay enough attention to how the housing system impacts productivity and growth. The suggestion of social housing as a solution has been widely supported.

A new survey by UNSW City Futures Research Centre assessed the views of 87 experts in the academic, industry and government sectors, the majority of whom were trained economists.

The outcomes of the survey suggested that Australia’s housing system could pose a future risk to the country’s economic stability.

City Futures Survey Charts
City Futures Survey Charts. Source – UNSW.

A spokesperson for the research team, Professor Bill Randolph, explained that the study highlighted the risk of over-reliance on the current ultra-low interest rates to sustain housing, employment and productivity.

“The vast bulk of housing experts and economists surveyed are concerned that ongoing Treasury dependence on ‘cheap money’ policy will further ratchet up house prices and widen the gap between rich and poor.”

“From a purely economic perspective, the informed expert view is that this will undermine productivity and economic growth.”

Professor Randolph suggests a large-scale national social housing program would be one of the best ways to broaden Australia’s economic recovery strategy.

“Minimal construction for most of the past 25 years means that
national social housing supply has effectively halved since the 1990s .”

The survey indicated strong support for direct government stimulus to social or affordable housing rather than private housing.

In the past year, waiting lists for public housing have grown by 4%.

Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, a national advocacy campaign to end homelessness is a strong supporter of the social housing solution.

“(In the) longer term this would boost productivity, by allowing people better access to jobs. Social housing can lift people out of poverty and put them on a path to prosperity.”

“A seven billion dollar investment in social and affordable housing would unlock more than $18 billion in economic expansion.”

“A better-balanced housing system is the right thing to do. It also happens to be the smart thing to do.”

The Victorian government has begun to take steps in the development of social housing.

The survey was commissioned by the Housing Productivity Research Consortium.

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