Government urged to double social housing funding to help struggling Aussies find a home

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

A coalition of housing, property and social service organisations have joined forces to call for additional government investment to fix the nation’s worsening housing crisis.

Together, the Property Council of Australia, National Shelter, the Housing Industry Association, the Community Housing Industry Association, ACOSS, Master Builders Australia, and Homelessness Australia have asked the government to double the Housing Australia Future Fund to $20 billion in the upcoming May budget.

The Housing Australia Future Fund was launched last year, aiming to improve housing outcomes for struggling Aussies by supporting the delivery of 20,000 new social and 20,000 new affordable homes across Australia over five years.

Its success is seen as a critical component to the government meeting its already ambitious National Housing Accord building target of constructing 1.2 million new homes by the end of the decade. 

But with concerns mounting that new home builds have already begun to lag behind anticipated levels in 2024 due to a combination of delayed housing approvals and further construction company collapses, the alliance has written to the government urging them to double their funding in a bid to get new home construction on track. 

Community Housing Industry Association CEO Wendy Hayhurst says the housing crisis is at a crossroads, with additional funding essential to boosting social housing stocks nationwide. 

“We are at a critical juncture in addressing the housing crisis in Australia. Doubling the Housing Australia Future Fund would boost revenue to invest in much-needed affordable homes to benefit generations to come,” she said.

The rising prices across all property market sectors have had a domino effect, leading otherwise homeowners to be forced into the rental market and former renters to be forced out of their rental homes entirely. 

The recently released 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot surveyed more than 45,000 rental listings across Australia and found that affordability has crashed to record lows.

2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot Results:

  • 0.6% of rentals affordable for a person earning a full-time minimum wage
  • 0.2% of rentals affordable for a person on the Age Pension
  • 0.1% of rentals affordable for a person on a Disability Support Pension
  • 0% of rentals affordable for a person on Youth Allowance.
  • 0% of rental sharehouses affordable for a person on JobSeeker

To provide affordable rentals for those undergoing housing stress, advocacy groups such as Everybody’s Home say Australia needs 50,000 social housing properties every year over the next decade, identifying the upcoming budget as an opportunity to “shift the dial”.

“Every year, we’re seeing more people priced out of renting and being pushed into housing stress and homelessness. Even in regions where rental supply has gone up, housing isn’t becoming more affordable,” Spokesperson Jenifer Kirkaldy said.  

“The private market alone will not solve the housing crisis. Instead, we need a boost in social housing – homes that are set up to make renting affordable.”

Most rental properties are now unaffordable for those on the minimum wage, jobseeker or pensions – 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot.

Homelessness Australia CEO Kate Colvin says providing additional social housing urgently was essential to help those struggling with the cost of living to avoid homelessness. 

“Investment in more social housing is urgently needed to provide homes to the growing number of people being squeezed out of the rental market,” she explained. 

But doubling down on HAFF investment isn’t the only upgrade the alliance would like to see come May, with the group calling for a draft release of the upcoming National Housing and Homelessness Plan for further engagement and consultation in the sector. 

Their requests, penned in a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, also ask for the inclusion of fixed targets for both social and affordable housing within that plan as well as greater accountability for project delays and failures. 

The group also called for governments to do more to help speed up the rate of building and development approvals, which will help alleviate housing pressures.

And with the construction firms already behind schedule on 2024 building targets, Property Council Chief Executive Mike Zorbas warns there’s no time to lose.

“The government should double down on its leadership position and help states and territories speed up planning and housing supply across the board,” he said.

Master Builders Australia echoed that urgency, saying delays on new projects were among the most significant contributors to the current crisis. 

“We know one of the biggest handbrakes on housing supply is making it easier for new projects to get the green light by kickstarting private investment and reducing development costs and delays,” CEO Denita Wawn said.

Share This Article
Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.