Election call for affordable housing as rents soar

Two housing providers say Robertson ranks in the top 10 electorates in Australia for rent rises, and have urged all candidates in the federal election to commit to delivering better social and affordable housing.

PowerHousing Australia and Pacific Link Housing say housing affordability will define the election for many voters in the electorate.

PowerHousing CEO, Nicholas Proud, said a review of CoreLogic data from March 2020 to March 2022 revealed rents rose by 13.61 per cent in the past 12 months and 26.6 per cent in the past two years, with housing prices up 45.66 per cent.

Proud said 20 per cent of people in the electorate received Age Pension, Disability Support Pension or JobSeeker, above the national average of 16.19 per cent, and this exacerbated the impact of housing pressures.

“These increases in prices since the onset of COVID are simply overwhelming,” he said.

“Cost-of-living increases, especially rent, impact those on low and fixed incomes the hardest.

“Robertson also has a median age of 42.5, higher than the national average of 38. It is unclear how the estimated 3,845 pensioners renting in Robertson will afford these increases in rents.”

While he welcomed Labor’s announcement of a Help to Buy program, to assist 10,000 lower-income earners buy a home of their own, and the Housing Australia Future Fund, creating 30,000 social and affordable homes in the next five years, he said more needed to be done to create affordable housing.

“Ten thousand shared-equity homes is a start, but this would need to be increased five-or 10-fold to tackle the problem,” he said.

“There needs to be a broader funding mechanism to ensure the continued affordable housing supply.

“Countering this challenge and creating greater certainty in affordability, our 36 Community Housing Provider (CHP) Members provide 75,000 social and affordable homes to 125,000 people nationally.”

Proud said he wanted to see a national housing plan with a federal-state partnership, shared equity and incentives for developing social and affordable housing.

He also called for the replacement of older social housing with more efficient design and reduced carbon footprint.

Ian Lynch, CEO of local Tier 1 Community Housing Provider (CHP) Pacific Link Housing, said rising rents had outstripped increases in rent assistance.

“Targeted policies for affordable rental accommodation are sure to win over marginal voters,” he said.

“Whilst median rents may have increased in this electorate, our tenants will not see such significant rises in median rents, as CHPs keep a realistic rent in place for those that need this. However, our financial capacity can only go so far.”

Lynch was cautious about the Liberal Party proposal to let first home buyers access their superannuation to buy a property.

“A greater impact on housing affordability would be to address the lack of supply of affordable properties both for purchase, and for rental via Community Housing Providers, to make housing available for people to rent over a long and stable tenure,” he said.

Media release, May 12
PowerHousing and Pacific Link Housing