ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Numbers confirm housing is our city’s greatest challenge

13 April 2018

A data snapshot compiled by the ACT Council of Social Service confirms that creating affordable housing and addressing homelessness should be the number one priority for a government committed to reducing inequality. 

The snapshot brings together a range of important data and information for the first time to show the true dimensions of housing stress and homelessness in the city of Canberra.

The numbers show that out of 1,280 rental properties only 38 were suitable to households living on income support payments and only 80 were suitable for households living on the minimum wage; 7,000 households in the ACT are experiencing housing stress; on average, applicants for standard public housing in the ACT are waiting 2.7 years for a property; more people are rough sleeping in the ACT; and housing stress and homelessness are disproportionately impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people experiencing domestic and family violence and people with mental illness.

ACTCOSS Director, Susan Helyar, said, “Finding an affordable, accessible, safe and secure home is the cornerstone for a connected and contributing life. It provides a foundation from which to participate both economically and socially in the life of our city. It is also a critical social determinant of physical health and social and emotional wellbeing.

“Yet here we see compelling data which shows that there is almost no housing in this city which is affordable to anyone on any kind of income support or a minimum wage. It also shows that the lack of affordable private rental is the real problem, especially in the bottom two quintiles, but also extending outwards to cover single working parents and students. Data which shows that up to a third of low income households in the ACT are experiencing housing stress should concern us. No one in Canberra wants people to compromise on the basics like food, healthcare, education expenses, dental and transport, just to keep a roof over their head.

“On average, people wait nearly three years for a standard public housing property in our city and outside of that option we have a lack of appropriate, affordable and accessible built form for anyone who is not on high incomes or who needs adapted, accessible or visitable housing.

“A third of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the ACT in the last financial year did not have their need for accommodation met. In a city which prides itself on human rights and inclusion, this is unacceptable.

“We cannot be the best city in the world until we address the serious and pressing inequality, stress and pressures that are faced by too many people trying to maintain a home.

“The ACT community sector has welcomed positive initiatives by the ACT Government such as the commitment to the affordable housing strategy and the new Housing Choices demonstration project round. These are a welcome start but going forward we need to see substantial and positive investments in affordable housing and work to unlock land to supply affordable rentals”, Ms Helyar said.

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

Read the snapshot