In this report, the Senate Economics References Committee underscores the importance of affordable, secure and suitable housing as a vital determinant of wellbeing. But, based on the evidence, the committee finds that a significant number of Australians are not enjoying the security and comfort of affordable and appropriate housing—that currently Australia's housing market is not meeting the needs of all Australians.
Sustained growth in median housing costs above the rate of median household income growth in recent decades has made it increasingly difficult for a growing proportion of Australians to afford housing that is safe, secure and appropriate to their needs. Added to the general decline in housing affordability, and indeed compounding the trend, the stock of affordable housing—that is, housing appropriate to the needs of low- to moderate-income households—has failed to keep pace with demand in recent decades.
The committee does not believe the issue of housing affordability in Australia is rightly categorised as either a 'supply-side problem' or a 'demand-side problem'. With this in mind, it is clearly evident that supply is currently not keeping pace with demand in the housing market. In this context, policy interventions that add to demand without addressing or at least accounting for supply-side constraints risk inflating house prices and exacerbating affordability problems.
The committee makes a total of 40 recommendations and states that it is of the view that the Australian Government cannot vacate the affordable housing space or step back from its responsibilities to ensure that every Australian has access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing.
In the long run, the committee states that investment in affordable housing returns dividends not only to the individual struggling to access safe, secure and affordable housing but to the budgets of the Australian, state and territory governments and ultimately the Australian taxpayer.
Title: Out of reach? The Australian housing affordability challenge
Authored by: Senate Economics References Committee
Date: May 2015
Available from: Parliament of Australia website at <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Affordable_housing_2013/Report> or directly from this link (PDF: 2.59 MB).
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