Budget needs to go beyond loans to boost housing and construction

Extension of the government guarantee for the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by $1 billion is a welcome step from the Federal Government, but only direct investment in social housing would create the jobs and homes for families in rental stress and losing income in the recession, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW has said.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi welcomed the extra support in the Federal Budget for NHFIC, but stated that more support would be needed to tackle the housing crisis and protect 85,000 construction industry jobs currently at-risk in NSW.[1]

“We welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to extend NHFIC’s lending capacity to help the community housing sector build more affordable housing.  However, the failure of the Government to make direct investment in social housing infrastructure is a missed opportunity to create significant economic and employment growth and to provide housing for NSW families in desperate need.” says Mr Degotardi.

“In NSW alone, we have over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list.   That queue will only grow as the economic impact of this pandemic plays out. Rental affordability has halved since March for people on income support and homelessness in NSW is expected to increase by as much as 16,000 people as a result of COVID-19.

“Direct investment in social housing is strongly supported across the housing sector.  It is the right economic move if the Government really wants to generate the jobs and economic growth that we need to put our economy on the road to recovery.”

In recent weeks:

  • Australia’s top economists named social housing spending the single most effective form of economic stimulus in the Conversation-Economic Society of Australia pre-budget survey;
  • The National Housing Finance Investment Corporation found 9 jobs were created for every $1 million in social housing investment;
  • Property peaks joined homelessness organisations, housing providers, unions and the superannuation industry to create the National Alliance for Affordable Housing to call for investment in social housing.
  • More than 300 Australian organisations from across the housing and social services spectrum signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for social housing to be included in tonight’s Budget;
  • And polling showed that 60% of Australians believe investment in affordable housing should have been a Budget priority;[2]
  • The Grattan Institute commended the Federal Government to support CHIA National’s Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP) to build 30,000 social housing properties.[3]

Mr Degotardi said the Federal Government’s lack of direct investment in social housing puts the focus on the NSW government’s response to the housing and construction industry crisis.  Next month’s State Budget must support measures that would deliver 5,000 social housing properties a year for the next 10 years if the NSW Government is serious about economic stimulus, protecting thousands of construction jobs and keeping thousands of families out of homelessness.

“There is an incredible opportunity for the NSW Government to use social housing as the driver of our economic recovery and help fix a housing system that has been broken for decades,” says Mr Degotardi.

“The Berejiklian Government must find the courage and vision to tackle this housing crisis and save the NSW economy and construction sector.”

Media contact: Hannah Craft, 0423 377 965

[1] See Equity Economics Report on COVID-19 impacts: ‘Supporting Economic Recovery in NSW’, link: https://www.homelessnessnsw.org.au/sites/homelessnessnsw/files/2020-05/LR%20-%20FINAL%20-%20Equity%20Economics%20-%20Supporting%20Economic%20Recovery%20in%20NSW_05092020.pdf

[2] See Essential Media polling: https://essentialvision.com.au/priorities-for-upcoming-federal-budget

[3] https://www.domain.com.au/news/social-housing-construction-boom-should-be-key-budget-policy-experts-say-992937/