Group calls to expand HomeBuilder to social housing

By Gerv Tacadena

An advocacy group has urged the federal government to expand the HomeBuilder grant to social and affordable housing to help alleviate the risk of homelessness.

Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, said expanding the housing package to social housing makes "excellent economic sense" as doing so could generate jobs.

"The $100 billion stimulus impact of HomeBuilder is great news for construction. If we directed some of this to social housing, it would be even more powerful, because we could ease the threat of homelessness for those families left behind by the current housing boom," she said.

A report from The Australian showed that the demand for the HomeBuilder grant has pushed the government costs from to $688m to more than $2.5bn, boosting more than $30bn in direct construction and housing investment. The scheme has contributed roughly $103bn to the economic activity and has generated 340,000 jobs.

Colvin said there are "enormous economic benefits" to stimulating the construction sector.

“Every economist worth their salt agrees taxpayers receive a compelling return on their dollar when it is invested in social housing. We can create jobs, ease homelessness and reduce the demand on other government services such as hospitals and homeless shelters," she said.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reflect the impact of the HomeBuilder scheme on housing construction. In fact, approvals for private-sector houses increased by 15.1% in February, which translated to 13,939 homes. Over the year, approvals for the construction of new homes were up by 57.5%.

"This is the highest level on record since the ABS began the series in 1983 and exceeds the previous record in December last year," said Michael Sukkar, minister for housing.

The scheme has also boosted home sales. A separate report from the Housing Industry Association showed that new home sales rose by 60.5% across Australian markets. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, new home sales increased by 32.5% over the past year. Activity from first-home buyers increased the past year, comprising 50% of overall activity in the housing market.

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