The biggest investment in social housing since Kevin Rudd was prime minister won’t be enough to stop life getting tougher for low-income tenants. Peter Mares sat down with Inside Story to share this thoughts on a new era for housing.

For almost a decade the Coalition government insisted the states and territories had sole responsibility for ensuring that Australians on the lowest incomes had a place to call home. Even at the height of the pandemic — when business, unions, advocacy groups and independent experts called with one voice for federal investment in social housing and cash was pouring out of Treasury coffers — the pleas for a federal investment were ignored.

As a result, getting access to social housing, whether it’s public housing provided by state authorities or community housing provided by not-for-profits, is harder than ever. The first tranche of 2021 census data shows that social housing’s share of all dwellings has fallen below 4 per cent Australia-wide, continuing a steady decline over more than two decades.

In 2018, the City Futures Research Centre estimated, the average annual gap for social housing was $12,000 per annum. On that basis, the Future Fund will need to earn $240 million each year to subsidise the 20,000 new social housing dwellings promised by Labor. If its earnings average 6 per cent each year, or $600 million, the extra income can be put towards Labor’s other promises — 10,000 “affordable” homes for police, nurses, cleaners and other “heroes of the pandemic,” repair and maintenance of existing housing stock, and a cash injection to build new crisis accommodation. And, of course, the government will need to pay interest on the $10 billion borrowed to set up the fund.

It’s important to understand that the proceeds from the Future Fund won’t be used to give not-for-profit housing providers up-front grants to build dwellings. Instead, it will guarantee to fund the gap between rent receipts and costs for twenty-five years, giving housing providers income certainty long into the future. This will enable them to seek the finance they need from private sources — including, potentially, superannuation funds (as is already happening in a limited number of cases). In this way, a relatively modest amount of public money can be leveraged to finance a lot of new housing.

Still, is the fund a cumbersome workaround? You can read Peter’s full analysis, originally published via Inside Story, here.

via Inside Story, 28 September 2022. Read the full media release here.

Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership’s programs include the 2 day Executive Ethics, 6 day Executive Colloquium and year-long Vincent Fairfax Fellowship. We also deliver online and tailored corporate programs. Find the right program for you here. They are all held under the Chatham House Rule to encourage genuine and open debate, and allow participants to candidly discuss sometimes sensitive issues in private while allowing the topic and nature of the debate to be made public, and contribute to a broader conversation. The alumni program offers ongoing leadership development support and a lifelong connection with Cranlana.

Image by Pat Whelan on Unsplash

Share This Story

Related articles

The Cranlana Method

We don’t teach leadership skills. Instead, we help leaders apply the skills they already have more wisely – by building clarity of purpose and ethical courage. Drawing on a rich history of philosophical wisdom, they encourage fresh and considered approaches to challenges – offering insights that, for many participants, will fundamentally transform their concept of leadership. Our courses are dialogue-based and immersive, bringing small groups of high-level leaders together for discussions that are wide-ranging and expertly guided. They are rigorous, in-depth and practical, providing high-level learning experiences and understanding to strengthen your capabilities as an effective and ethical leader.

Interested in discovering more?