Australia’s social housing crisis has been brought to light this week, as figures in the Australian Productivity Commission Report reveal “damning insight" into years of nationwide neglect.
The report on government spending revealed particularly poor findings for Victoria. The second-most populous state in Australia spent just $530 million on low-cost housing between 2017 and 2018, half that of New South Wales ($1.37 billion), and behind Western Australia ($829 million) and Queensland ($629 million).
“It’s patently obvious that homelessness will continue to increase without an ambitious plan to grow public and community housing in Victoria,” said Jenny Smith, the chief executive of the Council to Homeless Persons, in a media release.
Smith went on to reveal that with population increases taken into account, Victoria spent almost $83 per head last year on affordable housing. The national average was $166.93.
“Our services have an ever-increasing number of people coming to them for help, and fewer social housing units in which to put them. It’s not rocket science — we just need more housing that is affordable to people on the lowest incomes,” she added.
The Australian Productivity Commission released the Report on Government Spending (RoGS), with key findings revealing Victoria spent just $530 Mn on social #housing, behind New South Wales ($1.37 Bn), Queensland ($629 Mn) and Western Australia ($829 Mn)” https://t.co/wDtN1OfZJO— 2019wihc (@2019wihc) January 24, 2019
The report further revealed that the number of homeless people being turned away from accommodation services throughout Australia had greatly increased. In 2014, there were 140,000 people in need of social housing; 24% of those people were unable to be helped due to a lack of resources. For 2017 to 2018, people in need reached 160,000, with 32.7% receiving no assistance.
Much to the frustration of homeless agencies throughout Australia, the report exposed that federal government expenditure ($2 billion) was half that of the combined eight states and territories ($4 billion). CEO of National Shelter Adrian Pisarski told Pro Bono News the federal government “critically” needed to increase spending.
“What I found interesting was the fact that the states spend at least twice as much on the social housing system as the Commonwealth does. The Commonwealth is still complaining that the states don’t do enough when clearly there’s a need for the Commonwealth to do more,” he stated.
One day after the release of the report, acting Housing Minister for Victoria, Lily D'Ambrosio, announced 700 additional rental properties would be made obtainable in Victoria thanks to the Social Housing Growth Fund.
“This project is building on the strengths of the community housing sector, unlocking both investment in the residential market and housing for those who need affordable rental properties,” she said.