The $9bn National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA), which aims to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable, safe, and sustainable housing, is set to be axed in the May budget following a report that showed the states and territories had failed to meet almost every benchmark set by the federal government since it was introduced in 2009.
According to figures obtained by The Australian, the Rudd government scheme, which delivers almost $1.5bn annually in grants to the states, had failed to deliver any measurable improvement in the provision of affordable housing.
Moreover, despite pledges to boost the supply of social housing, the 2017 Report on Government Services (RoGS) revealed that public housing stock has been falling since 2009, going backwards by 16,000 homes. Even the transfer of public housing stock to subsidised social housing has failed to meet any targets to increase the supply of affordable housing.
Twenty percent of the existing public housing stock is now considered to be in “an unacceptable state,” while 8% was considered uninhabitable. Meanwhile, a promise to reduce homelessness by 7% has not been met; instead, the homeless rate has risen by 17%.
The states and territories were equally unsuccessful in delivering on commitments to alleviate by 10% the number of low-income households experiencing rental stress (households that fall under this definition spend more than 30% of their income on rent).
The Turnbull government has hinted that it’s preparing to replace the current agreement, which would deliver immediate savings to the budget of $1.5bn a year. Radical reforms include the possibility of a government-backed bond scheme to stimulate investment from the private sector to expand affordable housing stock.
RoGS revealed that public housing supply has contracted from 345,707 in 2007 to 321,879 in 2016. The report also claimed that community housing had growing rates of overcrowding.
Similar results were noted for the provision and funding of state-owned and managed indigenous housing. Despite investments totalling in the billions, there has been little accountability and transparency from the states and territories, raising the question as to how the money had been spent and why virtually no targets had been met.
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