Local community housing provider Compass Housing says opinion polls conducted in four battleground federal seats show there is greater voter recognition of the housing crisis and clear support for more federal government attention on housing, including funding the construction of social housing.
The national Everybody’s Home campaign to end homelessness commissioned the polls in early February in the seats of Bass (Tasmania), Gilmore (NSW), Flinders (Victoria) and Longman (Queensland). Between 630 and 965 respondents in each electorate gave their views on housing affordability and policy solutions.
Compass Housing’s strategic engagement officer and its representative with Everybody’s Home, Professor David Adamson OBE, said a majority across those electorates believe the federal government has failed to confront the housing rental crisis. They want greater investment in social and affordable housing, and are sceptical that first home owner grants can fix the problem.
He said separate analysis of wage and rent data in each electorate shows surging rental prices are swallowing an ever larger chunk of people’s wages. The findings are consistent with earlier research by Compass showing renters on average incomes frequently struggle to afford average rents.
“People in the areas where Compass operates – metropolitan and regional NSW and south east Queensland – are also saying that housing is a crucial issue and the government is not doing enough to fix the problem,” Professor Adamson said.
“Fixing the housing and rental affordability crisis is beyond any state government,” he said.
“We need a national plan, developed in conjunction with the states, that contains evidence-based solutions rather than piecemeal initiatives which end up pushing up house prices and rents.”
Key findings of the Everybody’s Home polls
- Three quarters (75 per cent) of respondents believe that it is ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ for people on low-to-middle incomes to find an affordable home to buy or rent. In Gilmore the figure was 80 per cent.
- More than two-thirds (67.5 per cent) believed the federal government had not done enough to address housing affordability while an even larger majority (71 per cent) think there is not enough social and affordable housing for people struggling in the housing market.
- Issues of housing affordability and social housing resonate strongly with minor party, independent and undecided voters. They are typically more likely than the average to believe the Federal Government is not doing enough on housing affordability.
- The most popular policy response to housing affordability is building more social housing above measures such as first home owner grants. Almost half (45-50 percent) believe such grants and incentives are ineffective.
National spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin, said the housing affordability crisis is absolutely top of mind in these electorates. Ms Colvin said politicians who propose solutions that work, such as more social and affordable housing, will successfully connect with voters.
“Voters are rejecting band-aid solutions like first home owner grants because they know we need to give renters on low and modest incomes the stability of a secure home,” Ms Colvin said.
“Rents have surged while incomes have barely budged,” she said.
“People on modest incomes now have to fight tooth and nail to get a home and maintain it. It shouldn’t be this difficult to keep a roof over your head in a wealthy country like Australia.”
Compass Housing is one of Australia’s largest not for profit community housing providers. It manages around 7,000 properties in the Sydney, Central Coast, Hunter, Central West, Far West, and Mid North Coast regions of NSW and in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.