Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Helping families with housing

New figures released by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs show that over the last five years the numbers of Australians receiving rent assistance has increased.

During a visit to St Mary’s House of Welcome in Melbourne, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said increasing rental pressure meant many families were finding it more difficult to balance their budgets.

Recognising that many Australians are under increasing housing pressure, the Australian Government is providing an additional 50,000 properties over four years to be rented to low and moderate income earners at 20 per cent below the market rent.

We are also investing $5.7 billion to build 19,200 social housing dwellings across Australia as part of the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

Across all our housing programs, we will increase the stock of affordable housing by more than 80,000 units over the next four years which will assist with reducing upward pressure on rents.

This is the first major investment in affordable housing by the Commonwealth in a decade.

Over the last five years, the number of Australians receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance has risen by almost 15 per cent.

In September 2004, 938,000 individuals and families received assistance. This rose to 1,076,000 in September 2009.

People already under housing pressure, can find this time of the year particularly difficult when they are trying to find that little bit extra for presents for the kids and Christmas lunch.

It’s also a time when there is increasing pressure on organisations like St Mary’s House of Welcome which provides people with emergency relief including food hampers, clothing, transport, chemist vouchers and help with accommodation and utility bills,.

To support these organisations, the Government is providing $130 million in additional funding until June 2011 as part of the Financial Management Program.