ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Housing strategy must meet expectations

23 October 2018

1000s of homes, targets, accountability

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) have released their expectations of the affordable housing actions that need to be included in the ACT Housing Strategy being announced on Monday 29 October.

Developing an Affordable Housing Strategy was a welcome promise from the 2016 ACT election responding to years of community concern about the lack of affordable housing for people in the bottom two income quintiles – housing that can be afforded by people on a minimum wage or income support.

Susan Helyar, Director of ACTCOSS, said, “We look forward to next week’s announcement of the ACT Housing Strategy by Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Yvette Berry MLA.

“As the ACT Government moves to release this strategy next week, our community has high expectations that it will include significant investments, a long term strategy, evaluation mechanisms and a host of tangible measures to address the affordable housing crisis in Canberra which is most harshly felt by low income people with significant barriers to finding a home in the private rental market. The housing market in this city continues to be overheated and unaffordable and we cannot wait for the Federal Government to act.

“Canberrans have been coming together for a long time to set out expectations in affordable housing and to offer solutions. A range of community organisations have been working for years now, along with allies in the business sector and property industry, setting out collective expectations and ideas for addressing our affordable housing crisis.

“We know what needs to be done. We heard the real experiences of Canberra people experiencing housing stress and homelessness. Since then, ACTCOSS, and others, have prioritised housing within a Community Shared Statement, issued a Housing Communique with roundtable partners including industry, put forward ideas in Budget submissions, submitted to the ACT Government’s summit process and the Housing Choices process through a submission and evidence, along with data. Our main issues were in turn recognised in the recommendations of the Collaboration Hub.

“So now as we approach the release of the ACT Government’s Housing Strategy, we offer a position paper which summarises and consolidates these many inputs – ideas, solutions and long-shared expectations – that can be used by the Canberra community as a tool to assess the reach and adequacy of the government’s announcements next week.

“The strategy must include targets that match the scale of the housing problem faced in our city. Land release and urban renewal sites must include at least 20% affordable housing.

“We need investment that will build thousands of homes through mechanisms like land transfers; rental subsidies; growth of public housing; and increasing land supply for affordable homes. We need overdue protections for renters and people in caravan parks plus action on Universal Design.

“We need affordable housing investment that delivers for those facing the greatest housing stress and high rates of homelessness including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; single low-income people including with dependents, carers and people under 15 years old or over 65 years old; people with disabilities; people on income support payments; and people with uncertain visa status and other newly arrived communities with limited work rights.

“Above all, the strategy must allow us to properly assess its impact. That means deliverables, timeframes, measures of success and public reporting schedules for all ACT Government Directorates. They should be first to demonstrate how investments and policy settings are improving supply of affordable housing for the specific groups they serve”, Ms Helyar said.

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