"Weak policy" to blame for housing shortage

By Paolo Taruc | 15 Jun 2018

A recently-published study claims “weak and/or inappropriate policy settings” – especially at the national level – are taking their toll on Australia’s housing affordability. In particularly, it called for a national strategic framework to address the country’s shortage of some 200,000 affordable dwellings.

The framework involves integrating public subsidies, financial settings, policy levers and programs that exist across the three levels of government. The goal: to deliver a long-term growth of affordable housing supply, according to a study by academics from Curtin University, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Sydney.

The researchers noted that some jurisdictions, such as Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, have developed comprehensive strategic frameworks for increasing affordable housing supply. “[T]hese strategic frameworks unite housing and housing supply targets, programs and initiatives across the private and affordable housing sectors, addressing the continuum of housing need.”

Data showed that inclusionary planning, although limited in Australia, has helped some states address affordable housing. South Australia delivered 5,485 affordable rental and low cost home ownership dwellings from 2005 to 2015 through an inclusionary planning target for new residential areas. This amounted to around 17% of SA’s total housing supply.

In New South Wales (NSW), a planning incentive scheme introduced in 2009 yielded around 2,000 affordable rental dwellings in Sydney, equivalent to less than 1% of the city’s total supply over the period.

Nevertheless, the study suggested that inclusionary planning should never be seen as an alternative source of funding for social and affordable rental housing provision, and that an independent, national-level advisory body should be created to guide ongoing developments.

“A strategy or program must be resilient, with clear targets and measurable outcomes,” the study read. “It must be able to survive a change of government and must be able to maintain its initial momentum through continual reinforcement of key messages and regular communication of achievements.”


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