NSW Housing Affordability Crisis

Housing and homelessness peaks in NSW today issued a joint statement outlining their position on the housing affordability crisis in NSW.
There is an increasing public discourse on the housing system and in particular the availability of accessible and affordable housing. Clearly the system is failing many individuals and families. We have considerable experience and expertise in understanding the housing markets and call on all levels of government to work to ensure a fairer housing system.
A lack of affordable housing has both economic and social consequences. Without safe and secure housing women and children can’t leave violent situations, recidivism increases, homelessness will not be solved and essential service workers will increasingly be unable to live in the communities they serve.
We reject claims that increasing supply will solve the affordability crisis. In recent years NSW has seen strong increases in supply, but affordability has only worsened. Increasing supply will only make a difference if it is specifically targeted to the lower end of both the home ownership and rental markets.
Changes in employment that have resulted in greater levels of casualization, contracting and insecurity have had a serious impact on first home owners capacity to sign up to long term mortgages with confidence. Workers under the age of 30 are more likely to be casual than ever before. If the trend continues into the prime working age years it will come at the cost of income security. Almost a quarter of all employees in Australia (23.9 per cent, or 2.2 million people) in 2012 reported as casual employees. The proportion is even higher after adding more than a million contractors and the hundreds of thousands employed through agencies. In addition wages growth is almost flat.
In much of NSW attempts to assist people on low incomes into the private rental market is an almost impossible task. This is clearly evidenced in the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot. Additionally at the 2011 Census over 86,000 households in NSW were in rental housing stress, paying  more than 30% of their income in rent. This is unsustainable.
Tax reform is necessary. We would urge all parties to re-examine the findings of the Henry Tax Review. There is clear evidence that negative gearing and the capital gains tax discounts drive speculation, increasing house prices. There is scant evidence that making adjustments to negative gearing will cause rents to increase.
While the New South Wales government has made a start in establishing an incentive fund for social and affordable housing, more needs to be done. There is an enormous gap between government sponsored housing and the private rental market. We would support direct investment by the state government to increase affordable housing supply. Private investors need encouragement to provide affordable housing.
The New South Wales laws need to change to allow increased security of tenure for tenants as well as fairer laws on rent increases. We believe that the Boarding House Act, while a step in the right direction has failed to ensure an adequate standard of accommodation for many people who are marginally housed.
We would support moves by local councils to increase the supply of affordable housing and urge them to work with communities to encourage new development, by highlighting the significant social benefits of secure and affordable housing.

For further information:
Churches Housing: Magnus Linder – 0417 487 052
DVNSW: Moo Baulch – 0400 936 192
Homelessness NSW: Katherine McKernan – 0425 288 446
NCOSS: Laura Maclean – 0412 867 658
Shelter NSW: Mary Perkins – 0419 919 091
Tenants Union of NSW: Ned Cutcher – 0405 433 996
YFoundations: Michael Coffey – 0425 228 758

jointstatement