Lack of Affordable Housing Is Having a Devastating Impact on Australia’s Most Vulnerable

By Peter Sarmas on 21 Aug 2013
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A recent study by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has suggested that a lack of affordable housing nationwide is having a ‘devastating impact’ on homeless service providers across Australia.

According to the study, which surveyed 500 housing and homeless service providers, up to 70 per cent of Australian agencies are under enormous strain and are struggling keep up with the demands they are faced with.

The evidence collected suggests that affordable housing is currently the greatest unmet need for clients of welfare services, followed by community-based care and treatment for mental illness and emergency relief.

Housing Industry Association Comments

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has expressed no surprise at the study’s findings. HIA Chief Executive of Industry Policy and Media Graham Wolfe claims “there has been a failure by successive governments at a state and federal level to address the fundamental constraints to housing delivery”.

According to Wolfe, “Residential construction is currently experiencing its longest trend decline in post-war history, which is being driven in part by the excessive and inefficient taxation on housing, a tight credit supply and state planning systems that constrain the timely and cost effective delivery of housing”.

“When there is shortage of homes being built, this impacts on the rental market at all levels,” says Mr Wolfe. “At the end of this cascading effect is the people who are the most vulnerable, but they have nowhere else to go and this has a social and economic cost to the entire community.”

The Study’s Findings

ACOSS Deputy CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine is concerned that “people on the lowest incomes are falling deeper into poverty.”

“One of the striking features [of the ACOSS study] was that almost 80 per cent of people presenting to the housing and homeless services that participated in the survey were wholly reliant on income support payments,” Dr Boyd-Caine said.

“They were also highly represented in numbers seeking help as reported by emergency relief providers (75 per cent) and mental health services (61 per cent). This is extremely alarming and further evidence of the damage being caused by keeping allowance payments such as Newstart as low as $35 a day.

“We need urgent action to address these issues, along with a plan to increase the abysmally low income support allowance payments like Newstart, if we are going to prevent more people falling into poverty and into the arms of our already stretched community services.”

About the Author

Peter Sarmas is a Certified Property Investment Advisor (PIAA) and Vendor/Buyer Advocate. Before becoming the founder of Street News, Peter completed a Degree in Applied Science (Chemistry) and a Graduate Diploma in Property Valuations (Hons). Peter believes property investing is a major and potentially risky undertaking. In his view, everyone should have an independent person acting on their behalf when seeking property investment advice.

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