The Federal Government’s new Homebuilder Scheme is a missed opportunity to tackle Australia’s housing crisis and create more real jobs for tradies according to leading community housing provider Compass Housing.
Acting CEO, Lyndall Robertshaw, said the scheme risked pushing up house prices and is inefficient because many of the $25,000 grants will end up being accessed by people who were planning to buy a new home anyway.
Ms Robertshaw said building new social housing would be more beneficial to construction jobs because it creates a pipeline of work that wasn’t there before. She said that this new pipeline of work can backfill the drop in demand for private dwellings and has the added benefit of providing much needed housing for vulnerable people.
Modelling by the Community Housing Industry Association and National Shelter, as part of the Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Proposal, shows that investing in 30,000 new social housing homes over four years will create between 15,500 and 18,000 full time equivalent jobs per year. Not for profit community housing organisations can leverage these assets, using low cost finance from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, to build 5,000 more homes to further stretch government dollars.
“Such housing programs have proven effective with 20,000 homes built, supporting 14,000 jobs, after the 2008 GFC,” Ms Robertshaw said.
“The disturbingly high social housing waiting lists mean demand is there and community housing providers have developers with shovel ready projects, so the stimulus is almost immediate.”
Ms Robertshaw said the housing need is dire.
- There is a shortage of more than 400,000 affordable homes nationally for low income households.
- Compass’ latest Affordable Housing Income Gap report shows that many renters were facing rental housing stress pre Covid-19.
- There are 150,000 Australian households on social housing waiting lists. A 2019 Compass Housing report showed these figures would be higher if everyone eligible applied for social housing.
“People in housing stress cut back on other spending – suppressing consumption which is also bad for the economy.”
“Funding new affordable housing will do more to reduce housing stress for both renters and buyers than these grants.”
The Government’s establishment of housing as a subcommittee of the National Cabinet is a welcome move. The first task of the subcommittee should be a national housing plan with initiatives that, together, will have the biggest benefit for the most people.
Compass Housing is a, not for profit, Tier 1, community housing provider managing more than 7000 properties in NSW and Queensland.