Page 3631 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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for-profit housing and other subsidised housing under the national rental affordability scheme, together with private rental and home ownership options for those immediately outside the subsidised social housing system.

Housing costs are generally considered affordable if they do not exceed 30 per cent of the household income of those in the bottom 40 per cent of the income range. However, as Anglicare Australia has recently reported, there are weaknesses with the 30 per cent of income housing stress measure, such as what constitutes housing costs and how to account for household income. The 2013 “rental affordability snapshot” found that there are practically no affordable rental options to be found in Canberra or Queanbeyan for any of the low income households studied.

Put simply, there are many households in our city that are considered disadvantaged, as their income is much lower than average. This makes private rental and home ownership unachievable for some people in our city, where it may be considered more possible in other cities or regional areas of comparable populations. The Disadvantage in the ACT report issued by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling this month found that approximately 20,000 Canberrans were experiencing financial and housing stress and relative poverty.

Quite clearly, we as a community need to do more to address these inequities. We have a strong partner in CHC Affordable Housing—the sort of on-the-ground outcome I was referring to earlier when Mr Hanson was interjecting. This is a not-for-profit development company that delivers affordable properties for both sale and rent to the ACT community. In my own portfolios, the Community Services Directorate and Housing ACT have been developing new and innovative models of social housing, working closely with the national rental affordability scheme and providing much-needed tenancy support services.

Perhaps one of the clearest examples of this work to date is the progress on the Common Ground housing development, a priority under the parliamentary agreement. Making good use of the national rental affordability scheme, in partnership with the Snow Foundation and a strong community housing provider, Common Ground will provide stable housing for those experiencing homelessness and also create new homes for affordable rental tenants. Mixing these tenants will create a new and positive environment and has been a success in other jurisdictions. I would like to acknowledge the work undertaken to support this initiative in the term of the last Assembly by Amanda Bresnan, a strong advocate for the issues we discussed today.

This year I introduced new legislation designed to support and grow the community housing sector, and I look forward to doing more in this area in consultation with peak community sector bodies such as ACT Shelter and ACTCOSS.

We can sum it up quite simply: housing affordability is approaching a crisis in Australia, and no-one can deny that it is vital that all levels of government face up to the challenges to meet the needs of people trying to break into the housing market. Housing is essential, and safe and secure housing should be considered not a privilege for the wealthy but a basic human right for all.

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