Articles on housing policy

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Rental stress leaves hundreds of thousands of Australians struggling for years to cover all the other costs of living. Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Growing numbers of renters are trapped for years in homes they can’t afford

After paying rent, more than half of low-income tenants don't have enough left over for other essentials. And the latest evidence shows nearly half of them are stuck in this situation for years.
The evidence shows permanent housing, like the Fitzroy housing estate, is the best and most cost-effective way to reduce homelessness. Kate Shaw

Shh! Don’t mention the public housing shortage. But no serious action on homelessness can ignore it

It's time to tackle the shortage of public housing head-on, rather than skirt around the problem. Public housing is the single most cost-effective way to turn around the rise in homelessness.
With more than 80% of Singaporeans living in state-provided housing, the city rates well for affordability compared to Sydney, where the figure is just 5.5%. Bill Roque/Shutterstock

Affordable housing lessons from Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore: 3 keys to getting the policy mix right

A coordinated mix of policies does more to keep housing affordable for a significant proportion of a city's residents than the unbalanced approach we see in Sydney.
Australians want greater housing choice, including affordable compact homes that are neither large detached houses nor multistorey apartments. Markus J/Shutterstock

People want and need more housing choice. It’s about time governments stood up to deliver it

Australians' need for smaller and more diverse dwellings is growing. The planning system is not providing enough of this housing, and self-serving opposition to it should be resisted.
The damaging effects of housing disadvantage on people’s mental health can persist even years after their housing situation improves. Lovely Bird/Shutterstock

Poor housing leaves its mark on our mental health for years to come

The difficulties for people facing housing disadvantage don't end as soon as their situation improves. They are at higher risk of poorer mental health years or even decades later.
Many places overseas require developers to build a certain proportion of affordable housing, but Victoria has opted for a voluntary negotiated approach. Lichtwolke/Shutterstock

If it’s voluntary for developers to make affordable housing deals with councils, what can you expect?

People on the minimum wage can afford only 2% of private rentals and only 1% if on the pension. Affordable housing requirements are often mandatory overseas, but Victoria is relying on negotiation.
Policies focused on ownership do little to help lower-income households that are struggling to pay the rent. Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Housing affordability has improved slightly, but people on lower incomes will continue to struggle

The policy focus remains on home ownership, but a new survey shows slight improvements in affordability do little to help people on low incomes. Their plight calls for better social housing policy.
In 2001, around half of homeless people were found in capital cities. Today it’s almost two-thirds. Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Homelessness soars in our biggest cities, driven by rising inequality since 2001

Homelessness in Australia is increasingly concentrated in the capital cities, where nearly two in every three people without a home are now found. That's the finding of a study of the data since 2001.
Scott Morrison talked about first home buyers during the election campaign, but had little to say about social housing. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Is this a housing system that cares? That’s the question for Australians and their new government

The Morrison government, having added a housing minister to its ranks, needs to recognise housing as having more than just economic value. Its impact on our ability to give and receive care is critical.
This shed has been illegally converted into housing. Two prams and three mattresses are visible. Informal Accommodation and Vulnerable Households, author provided courtesy of Fairfield City Council

Informal and illegal housing on the rise as our cities fail to offer affordable places to live

With Australian city rents too high for low-income earners, increasing numbers are forced to share houses or rooms or to live in options like 'beds in sheds' and other illegal dwellings.
Public housing in Paris (left) and Melbourne (right) has similar impacts on residents’ integration into the community. Wissem Felah, Sandra Carrasco

Paris? Melbourne? Public housing doesn’t just look the same, it’s part of the challenges refugees face

Whether in Melbourne or in Paris, African immigrants face social and cultural challenges, which public housing can either add to or help overcome.
The numbers of buyers able to celebrate moving into their first home are still well down on pre-GFC levels – and low-income renters are faring even worse. fizkes/Shutterstock

On housing, there’s clear blue water between the main parties

Housing policy is a stark point of difference at this election. While the government took promising steps to set up social housing finance, it has yet to give any sign it will finish what it started.
The recent slump in building approvals is a reminder of the risks of an over-reliance on a boom-and-bust market to meet all housing needs. Joel Carrett/AAP

Build social and affordable housing to get us off the boom-and-bust roller coaster

Housing markets never have met the lowest-income households' needs. Now is the time to tackle problems that have been years in the making by creating a better system to supply their housing.
Labor wants housing to be a federal election issue, but to solve the problems of recent decades Australian governments need to comprehensively rethink their approach. Julian Smith/AAP

Housing policy reset is overdue, and not only in Australia

The problems with housing systems in Australia and similar countries run deep. Solutions depend on a fundamental rethink of our approach to housing and its central place in our lives and the economy.

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