Articles on housing policy

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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.
Granny flats are often the result of informal arrangements between parents and children who assume it will all work out well. Markus J/Shutterstock

When granny flats go wrong – perils for parents highlight need for law reform

Parents and children rarely put agreements about granny flats in writing and almost never consult a lawyer. But when these arrangements go wrong, the consequences can be disastrous and costly for all.
The extra $1 billion Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Social Housing Minister Pru Goward say will be ‘harnessed’ for social housing is actually Commonwealth Rent Assistance for which tenants transferred to community housing providers become eligible. Simon Bullard/AAP

‘Growth’ of community housing may be an illusion. The cost-shifting isn’t

For the first time a state government housing agency has effectively contracted out all its operations in some regions, but will this improve and add to the total social housing stock?
The current social housing construction rate – barely 3,000 dwellings a year – does not even keep pace with rising need, let alone make inroads into today’s backlog. Joel Carrett/AAP

Australia needs to triple its social housing by 2036. This is the best way to do it

A tenfold increase in building is needed to overcome the current social housing shortfall and cover projected growth in need. But it can be done, and direct public investment is the cheapest way.
Airbnb’s likely impacts on people and their responses to it are related to their status as property owners, investors, prospective buyers or tenants. Justin Lane/EPA

Who wins and who loses when platforms like Airbnb disrupt housing? And how do you regulate it?

Short-term letting via digital platforms benefits some in the market at the expense of others. Closer regulation might be needed in Melbourne and Sydney, where a permissive approach prevails.
The Melbourne Apartments Project developed by the Barnett Foundation offered 28 units to households living within 4km of the site and willing to leave their social housing. Barnett Foundation

Affordable home-ownership scheme offers a pathway out of social housing

Shared equity models have a dual benefit of making home ownership affordable for people on modest incomes and freeing up scarce social housing for other households in need.
Uncapped rent increases and ‘no grounds’ evictions leave older women particularly at risk of substandard housing conditions or even homelessness. Shutterstock

Life as an older renter, and what it tells us about the urgent need for tenancy reform

Proposed changes to NSW rental tenancy law are an improvement, but do not end the excessive rent increases and "no grounds" evictions that put renters – and older women in particular – at risk.
The right of landlords to terminate a lease with no grounds is the most serious deficiency in residential tenancy laws in New South Wales. Shutterstock

An open letter on rental housing reform

Residential tenancy reforms are before the NSW parliament, but a key reform is missing. In this open letter, housing academics call for an end to landlords' power to terminate leases with 'no grounds'.
Caggara House in Brisbane caters for low-income residents aged 55 and over who previously lived alone in state-owned houses that were too big for their needs. UDIA Qld/Facebook

A community fix for the affordable housing crisis

Much of the innovation in providing social housing is coming from community housing providers around the country. And it's desperately needed given the state of housing inequality in Australia.
If you want to separate investor demand for property assets from demand for affordable housing, rent is a better indicator than property prices. James Ross/AAP

Why rents, not property prices, are best to assess housing supply and need-driven demand

Property prices have soared in the past decade, but much more modest increases in rent, with the exception of Sydney, suggest less of an imbalance of supply and demand for housing as a place to live.

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