Monday, September 26, 2005

Communique: A Call for Action

National Summit on Housing Affordability

Communique: A Call For Action

Affordable housing is crucial to Australia’s future. Without it, people are impoverished, families and communities are eroded, jobs are lost and the economy is weakened. A creeping crisis in affordability has been developing for many years. But housing affordability in Australia is now at its worst-ever level.

Keeping the Dream Alive - Professor Julian Disney

What can be done to improve affordability? First, it is crucial to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and the longer-term outlook in the absence of vigorous action. Refusals to heed warning signs more than a decade ago have already caused possibly irretrievable harm.

This damage must not now be aggravated by further denials of reality and continuing lack of political integrity. The economic and social problems caused by the crisis make it as great a problem as any facing Australia's long-term future.

Some of the more readily achievable improvements would be of greatest benefit to lower-income renters. In any event, they have been suffering from unaffordable housing for very lengthy periods. And help for them could relieve pressure higher up in the rental market.

The supply of low-rent housing could benefit greatly from targeted tax incentives or other subsidies to attract large financial investors. Processes for keeping the housing affordably occupied by low-income people would need to be strengthened, especially by expanding the use of non-profit housing managers, as is common in Europe.

Public housing can be a highly cost-effective way of helping low-income renters.
There is a strong case for restoring funding to the levels of a decade ago. This should enable wider availability for working families, even if for limited periods, rather than increasing confinement to the most desperately disadvantaged people.

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