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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4426 ..

for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (10.10): The ACT government went to the 2016 election with a commitment to develop a new housing strategy for our city. It should be no surprise that this is a priority for a progressive government like ours. The comfort and security of a good home is fundamental to so many parts of life—school, work, health, friendships, comfort, security and happiness. Whether it is breaking free from homelessness, securing a rental property or buying your own home, we all need to come to this from a different place.

It is well known that the housing marketing is driven by factors like Canberra’s high average incomes and low unemployment. Too many people face housing stress. Homelessness can be just one or two big life events away for many of us. Home ownership seems like a mirage to many. But Canberra is also well known for being a caring community, always willing to give to the greater good, to the needs of others. The election of successive governments willing to intervene where the housing marketing fails is a reflection of our caring community. We are willing to provide for people who do not have equal means to secure housing, and it shows. Canberra comes to the housing challenge with a strong foundation.

The ACT government has been active in making housing more affordable for over a decade. Against average incomes we are the most affordable jurisdiction in which to buy a home and the second most affordable in which to rent. Land supply has been accelerated, and ongoing tax reform led by the Chief Minister has helped moderate house pricing growth and avoid the extremes of Sydney or Melbourne.

These reforms continue, often in the face of stiff opposition. For over a decade the government has pulled available policy levers to respond to homelessness. We have maintained the highest ratio of social housing in the country, with nearly 12,000 dwellings home to more than 20,000 people. We have maintained the lowest rate of rough sleeping in Australia and driven a reduction in homelessness, while nationally it has increased. And we have invested heavily in specialist homelessness services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with additional funding in this year’s budget, on top of the $20 million provided to the sector every year.

However, there is more to do in building on this strong foundation. The ACT housing strategy I released yesterday sets out a simple vision: a housing market that meets the diverse and changing needs of the Canberra community and enables a sustainable supply of housing for individuals and families at all income levels. This vision responds to the contribution of many people through one of the largest community conversations we have seen in the ACT. Community organisations, industry, government representatives, unions, everyday families and individuals, as well as people with lived experience of homelessness were all involved.

Our community seeks a housing market that provides for our growing city, a housing market that allows the next generation to buy a home to live in and not be priced out by investors. They seek a rental market that provides fair, affordable rentals, where those renting have some agency in their home. They seek housing services that make it easier for people to get help or help others to get in touch with a support service.

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