ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACT Government begins work on improving supply of affordable, accessible housing

31 July 2017

ACTCOSS welcomes the release this past week by the ACT Government of an Affordable Housing Discussion Paper inviting people who experience housing stress, landlords, community advocates for affordable housing and the property industry to share their views on actions that can be taken to improve the supply of affordable housing in Canberra.

Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, said today, “The ACT Government has confirmed that 17,000 households in Canberra are struggling with housing because of a lack of income to cover costs or they don't have a secure tenancy or are without a place to call home. ACTCOSS analysis has found that people also struggle to find housing because of discrimination against people living on a low income, racism, ageism and ableism.

“In October 2016, one week before the ACT Election, leaders from the community sector, unions, the private sector and professional organisations outlined a shared agenda for improving supply of housing in Canberra.

“This shared agenda called on the ACT Government to work with the members of this group to negotiate a territory wide housing strategy that ensures all people in Canberra can obtain housing that is affordable, accessible, appropriate, safe and secure.

“The Discussion Paper released this week and the Advisory Group announced last month demonstrate the ACT Government has heard our call and accepted our invitation to work with leaders from different sectors to address one of the primary causes of social and economic inequality in Canberra.

“The ACT Government has recognised there are almost 20,000 households who experience extreme housing stress, and within this number around 1800 people have no place to call home. ACTCOSS has argued that the current Affordable Housing Action Plan, and other measures such as stamp duty and land tax reform, cannot deliver the changes needed in the supply of housing at the lower cost end of the market. Certainly not at the scale needed to address the needs of up to 20,000 households.

“We know that Aboriginal and/Torres Strait Islander peoples, people seeking asylum and humanitarian entrants, women, children and young people leaving violent relationships, and single income households (minimum wage or income support) experience extreme housing shortages and barriers to accessing affordable housing.

“We know that the numbers of young people and older people who are locked out of the Canberra housing market is growing every year. We know people living with disability have almost no options to rent in the private market and lamentably few houses in which they could live comfortably in the purchase market.”

Ms Helyar concluded, “It is these households who need to be front and centre of the discussion about improving housing affordability and reducing homelessness in the ACT.”

Responses to the Discussion Paper can be provided at:  

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.