Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Howard Government Legacy – more people than ever in need of affordable housing

A report released today exposes the Howard Government’s housing neglect – there are more people than ever before in need of affordable housing.

The Howard Government cut $3.1 billion from social housing in real terms during its time in office.

These funding cuts mean that low income working families are finding it harder than ever to get affordable housing.

The three reports released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare look specifically at public and community housing.

The data shows that public housing has become more tightly targeted. A third of Australians on public housing waiting lists are waiting more than two years for a public housing place.

The previous government’s $3.1 billion real funding cut to the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement has forced the States and Territories to target the provision of social housing even more tightly to those in greatest need.

ABS data shows that in 1995, 22 per cent of applicants for social housing were accommodated. Ten years later, only 14 per cent were able to move off waiting lists and into housing.

The previous government’s decade of neglect means that now the most disadvantaged Australians are waiting longer than ever just to get a roof over their heads.

Many low income working families are now missing out on social housing altogether.

These are the same working Australians suffering rapid increases in rent, which grew by 6.4 per cent in 2007 – more than double the rate of inflation.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to working with the States and Territories to boost the supply of affordable housing.

While there are no silver bullets to housing affordability, the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) will increase the supply of affordable rental properties by 50,000, helping as many households to meet rising cost of living pressures and save to buy their own home.

The AIHW Report shows there has been some growth in the community housing sector. The Government’s NRAS will substantially grow the community housing and affordability housing sector.