Australia has managed to house the homeless in hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic. We now have an opportunity to be thinking about longer-term solutions.
A social housing stimulus investment program would better facilitate the recovery of lives and livelihoods’ after the pandemic.
The pandemic has brought to a head deep-rooted problems with how housing is provided in Australia. Fortunately, the solutions can play a central role in the national recovery process.
Helping tenants find work supposedly creates a pathway into private rental housing, freeing up social housing for others. Private rental costs and the situations of many tenants make that unrealistic.
After paying rent, more than half of low-income tenants don't have enough left over for other essentials. And the latest evidence shows nearly half of them are stuck in this situation for years.
The need to manage long waiting lists for social housing, rather than serving the best interests of tenants and prospective tenants, is a major driver of policymakers' approach.
The delivery of affordable housing in Australia is in desperate need of a shakeup, says UNSW City Futures Research Fellow Dr Laurence Troy.
If we recognised social housing as infrastructure as essential as transport links, schools and hospitals, not properly investing in it could become unthinkable.
Labor has made a substantial commitment to tackling inequality in Australia, but has taken a second-best approach to overcoming the huge shortfall of social housing.
A tenfold increase in building is needed to overcome the current social housing shortfall and cover projected growth in need. But it can be done, and direct public investment is the cheapest way.