Housing affordability is one of the biggest economic and social issues that Australia faces. It is also an issue that the Greens have been fighting to address for a long time.
Addressing housing affordability requires a multifaceted, multilayered approach. There is no simple solution to this complex problem.
For too long, the taxation system has benefitted investors over home owners and this trend will continue until the Australian Government moves to address both negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.
One of the key points that is often lost in this debate – but not one that the Greens lose sight of – is that for the most disadvantaged households, housing affordability means the availability of affordable homes for rent as well as purchase.
For too long, our Government - and all Australian Governments - have accepted that housing is simply another commodity to be bought and sold to make a profit for the rich. Housing is now too expensive for not just the poorest of our residents - not just for the lowest socio-economic quintile - but now nearly a third of our residents feel housing stress.
There is an ever widening gap between the rich, middle class and the poor in this city and we have an obligation to ensure that all of our residents can have a roof over their head. And as jobs get scarcer, wages don’t rise, and housing gets harder to pay for, we will see the quality of life go down for many people. We know that if you do not have stable housing, you almost certainly will not be able to maintain stable employment - you will not be able to participate in a normal life of all Australians.
Addressing housing affordability requires a multilayered and multifaceted approach. We need an affordable housing package that:
- helps first home owners enter the market;
- helps low income earners rent;
- supports vulnerable people in our community;
- increases cooperative housing models;
- helps people wanting to downsize;
- reduces tax incentives for landlords to leave properties vacant; and
- reduces the financial reliance on government to delivering these services is what is needed to address this issue.
That is why the Greens were active in ensuring that housing affordability was addressed in the Parliamentary Agreement.
The Agreement includes things like:
- bringing HomeShare to Canberra – Home Share is promotes shared living program that help older Canberrans and people with disability to live in their own home and provide affordable accommodation for students and others seeking affordable accommodation;
- Home ground Real Estate – a model for ethical landlords to agree to rent at affordable rates;
- the Nightingale project – a model that allows prospective buyers, designers and financiers to work together to develop sustainable housing, which cuts out developer profits;
- investing in frontline homelessness services which provide assistance to those most in need and hosting a homelessness summit;
- Growing and diversifying our community housing sector through a combination of capital investment, land transfer and other means;
- Setting affordable housing targets across urban infill and Greenfield developments; and
- Developing a new affordable housing strategy.
The Greens are keen to see energy efficiency improvements in rental properties so that renters are not hit by exorbitant heating and cooling bills if they are even able to rent a property.
We are keen to see that renters rights are improved, so that there is more security of tenure.
As chair of the Planning and Urban Renewal Committee, we have an initiated an inquiry into housing because we know this is an issue that requires innovation, input from the public and other interested parties. We have to develop solutions that are long term, sustainable and make a lasting change in affordability so that those in our community who are in the lowest two income quintiles – as many is 40% of our community, can find a home that is affordable and appropriate to their needs.