Public housing at a 'critical juncture'

WITH Australia's population forecast to rise from over 22 million to 35.9 million by 2050, demand for housing will remain high, with any shortage of supply leading to severe problems for low and moderate-income households competing for housing.

According to a bulletin issued by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), public housing is at "a critical juncture in relation to its long-term future", as it faces "a mix of systemic, reputational and ideological challenges to its viability and legitimacy."

The bulletin is based on research investigating the future of public housing in Australia by Associate Professor Keith Jacobs of the AHURI Southern Research Centre, Dr Rowland Atkinson from the University of York and Dr Val Colic-Peisker, Professor Mike Berry and Professor Tony Dalton from AHURI RMIT Research Centre.

The researchers find that investment in the public housing system has reduced in relative size over the last 30 years and been increasingly targeted to serve the most disadvantaged welfare recipient households, undermining its financial viability.

According to the researchers, the continued growth of Australia's population will further burden the public housing system, while efforts to lobby for increased funding have generally been unsuccessful, "suggesting an ideological resistance to expanding public housing as a tenure."

The researchers state that a number of issues need to be overcome to ensure that public policy makers choose to reinvest in the tenure and call for "significant reforms and long-term political commitment from an enduring agreement between Commonwealth and state governments."

The AHURI bulletin, Issue 135, is available from the AHURI website at <http://www.ahuri.edu.au/> or directly from this direct link (PDF: 280 Kb). The bulletin is based on AHURI project 40561, 'What future for public housing? A critical analysis'.

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