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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3170 ..

A 2014 report from the Domestic Violence Crisis Service found that 54.6 per cent of women with home ownership, and 62.5 per cent of women renting, lose their homes within a year of separation. In 2016 there were more than 40,000 women and girls living in middle-income households with equivalised household income of $52,000 to $103,999 per year with a mortgage, which is 24 per cent of all women and girls in the ACT.

The greatest impact we can have on reducing the number of women in need of public housing avoiding homelessness is to ensure that they are able to continue to afford rent or mortgage payments, should their household income be reduced, such as when a relationship ends, or through loss of paid work.

The shift from separate homes to apartments does not include enough housing that is affordable for the lowest 40 per cent of household incomes in the ACT, whether owned or rented. What is driving this shift is federal government policies on negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts, encouraging speculative property investment by those who already have the means to own their own home, an age pension rate that assumes liveability only for those who own their home by retirement, and encouraging aspirational socio-economic class mobility in the middle classes by literal rent-seeking from those in the lowest 40 per cent of household incomes.

Analysis by the Gratton Institute reported in the Australian Financial Review in January 2018 showed that capital gains tax discounts are distorting demand and supply in the housing market by encouraging the wealthy to buy up properties and benefit from negative gearing tax deductions and capital gains tax discounts.

Those in the top 10 per cent of incomes went from receiving 70 per cent of capital gains tax discounts in 2003-04 to 80 per cent in 2014-15. People in the top 10 per cent of incomes in 2014-15 earned more than $110,000 per year, with an average income of $203,000 per year. The tax office then provided these high-income individuals with capital gains tax discounts of more than $7.6 billion. That is a lot. Imagine the investment we could make with $7.6 billion in social and community housing, and incentivising investment in energy-efficient, accessible, sustainable housing that is affordable for medium to low income households.

Even COVID-specific short-term federal government policies have failed to address the housing affordability gap for those on medium to low incomes. The $688 million HomeBuilder grants were only useful to households who could already afford most of the cost of the minimum $150,000 renovation, meaning low income households who only needed small renovations to make their home more energy efficient or accessible did not benefit from those $25,000 grants.

Meanwhile, the ACT government have implemented a sustainable household scheme and a vulnerable household energy support scheme to support low income households with improved energy efficiency that reduces their living costs and contributes to carbon emissions reductions, and including minimum accessibility standards in the 2022 National Construction Code.

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