ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Joint media release: Housing motion echoes calls from community sector to fix ACT's housing crisis

8 February 2022

Joint media release: ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and ACT Shelter have today welcomed a motion by Shadow Minister for Housing, Mark Parton MLA, calling for an urgent review of the ACT Government’s Housing Strategy and for more support to enable Community Housing Providers to deliver additional social housing.

The ACT Government through the 10th Parliamentary and Governing Agreement has committed to delivering 400 additional public housing and 600 additional affordable rental dwellings. However, the Productivity Commission’s recent Report on Government Services (RoGS) showed major failings in the ACT Government’s effort to address the Territory’s housing crisis.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We welcome Mr Parton’s motion that echoes ACTCOSS’s own advocacy calling for the ACT Government to deliver on its housing promises.

“As shown by the RoGS, and highlighted in Mr Parton’s motion, the ACT continues to have the highest rate of rental stress of any Australian jurisdiction and more than 30% of clients who approached homeless services with a need for accommodation did not have their needs met. Further, the number of public housing dwellings has decreased in recent years.

“ACTCOSS makes no apology for continuing to hold all political parties to account on the issue of affordable housing for people on low incomes. Indeed, we are also calling on the Australian Government to raise the rate of income support to prevent people living in poverty and to prioritise investment in housing in the coming federal budget.

“The ACT has the lowest level of community housing per capital in the country. In tight economic times it is important to get the most bang for the buck and community housing has demonstrated that it is the most efficient mechanism to grow the social and affordable rental supply.”

Mr Parton’s motion repeats calls from Community Housing Providers (CHPs) on what is needed to help address the shortfall of affordable homes: access to affordable land, rezoning to allow development by CHPs, and rates exemptions.

ACT Shelter CEO, Mr Travis Gilbert said: “Applications for public housing in the ACT have increased dramatically over the last four years. The average wait time for standard social housing is now more than 4.2 years, or 1,541 days. This is not surprising as the share of social housing in the ACT has declined from 7.6% in 2014 to 6.7% in 2020.

“Sustained increase in investment in housing infrastructure will change the lives of Canberrans experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness for the better. It will also pay dividends to the Territory in the form of reduced expenditure on government services and increased participation in the economic and social life of our city.”

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617, or
Travis Gilbert, CEO, ACT Shelter, on 0437 166 610.