Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

$2.2 Billion to Tackle Housing Squeeze and Homelessness

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

The Australian Government is tackling housing affordability and homelessness with a Budget housing package investing $2.2 billion over the next four years on boosting rental stocks, helping people save for their first home, lowering housing construction costs and building new homes for the homeless.

We are delivering on our election commitments to make the Australian dream of home ownership a reality for more people and give thousands of homeless Australians a place to call home.

Up to 50,000 new rental properties will be created by the new National Rental Affordability Scheme, at a cost of $622.6 million over the next four years.

This scheme will increase the supply of affordable rental housing and reduce rental costs for low-to-moderate income households.

The two key elements are:

  • An annual $6,000 Commonwealth tax credit or grant to construct new affordable rental properties and rent them at 80 per cent of prevailing market rents.
  • States and territories will also contribute $2,000 per grant or credit per annum and may increase this contribution if they choose. State and territory government assistance could be provided through a direct payment, or in-kind by reduced stamp duty, infrastructure charges and fast-tracked development approvals.

To be eligible for a property delivered under the National Rental Affordability Scheme, tenants will need to be low or moderate income earners, earning below defined income limits.

The Housing Affordability Fund will invest $359 million in this Budget period, totaling $512 million over the next five years, to lower the cost of building new homes, with an emphasis on proposals that improve the supply of new entry-level housing.

The fund will address two significant barriers to the supply of housing development:

  • infrastructure costs – such as water, sewerage, transport, and open space
  • holding costs – caused by planning and approval waiting times.

Money will be targeted to local governments for greenfield and infill developments where high dwelling demand currently exists or is forecast to occur.

The Government is also establishing First Home Saver Accounts to help people save for their first home in which to live. The accounts will provide a simple, tax effective way for Australians to save for their first home through a combination of a Government contribution and low taxes. The Government is providing $1.2 billion over four years to deliver on this important election commitment.

In addition, $100 million over the next four years (with another $50 million in 2012/13), is allocated to build 600 new homes for the homeless across the nation, as part of the A Place to Call Home strategy.

Fixing homelessness is a national priority.

The Government is investing in new housing in an effort to close the current gap between requests for accommodation and the supply of secure and affordable housing for homeless Australians.

Each state and territory will receive at least $1 million per year for the initiative which aims to reduce the number of people turned away from shelters.

Homeless families and individuals will move directly into this housing instead of going into refuges. They will also receive tenancy and support services for the first 12 months.

It will reintegrate people with the broader community and stop them from cycling in and out of homeless services.

A further $2 million over two years will go towards the establishment of a supported accommodation service for up to 20 people with a mental illness to Home in Queanbeyan Inc, a grassroots community organisation which aims to create a supportive home for the homeless and mentally ill in the region.

The Government will deliver a White Paper in September that provides a comprehensive national approach and action plan to combat homelessness over the next decade.

The Government has also pledged $10 million over three years to provide dedicated accommodation services for Indigenous women from remote communities who need to travel to regional and urban centres to give birth.

The funds will go towards constructing new facilities or upgrading existing facilities, located within easy reach of a hospital. Facilities will be designed specifically to meet the needs of Indigenous women, including the provision of appropriate support for the expectant mothers.

This measure is part of the Government’s commitment to an equal start in life for Indigenous children.