Greens put brakes on Housing Fund
At a time where Australia is in desperate need of affordable housing and a strategy to reduce the pain of hundreds of thousands of Australians unable to find rentals, let alone, enter the housing market the Greens have teamed up with the Coalition to further delay Labor’s key $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) legislation in the Senate. Why? Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young moved a motion in the upper house on Monday to postpone the vote until October 16th after the next national cabinet meeting as they want to put pressure on Labor to co-ordinate a rent freeze with state and territory leaders. We could put an emergency freeze on rent increases in place right now to make sure that nobody has to fear eviction into homelessness because they can't afford to pay the rent.
There's absolutely no reason why we can't give everyone a home they can afford. – Max Chandler Mather Greens Housing & Homelessness Spokesperson A rent freeze - in Eurobodalla? How would that pan out? For a start ..... What is the housing Australia Future Fund plan? The Commonwealth will establish a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund which will build 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in the first 5 years. Once established and the fund generates returns, investment returns will be used to fund social and affordable housing. That isn't 30,000 new houses in Eurobodalla - that is 30,000 across the whole country in 5 years. If you break that down evenly between states and territories (which won't be the case) NSW would get 1/8th giving it 3750 over 5 years or 750 per year. Let's say NSW gets double its allocation and Tassie, ACT and Northern Territory get dudded. That gives NSW 1500 houses per year. Now, to be fair, those 1500 new houses, earmarked as social housing or affordable to those who can least afford them need to be made available across the state to each local council area - there are 128 of those. If it is a level playing field then Eurobodalla could stand to receive funding to build six new houses per year however before any new places are built there must be an obligation to bring the poorly maintained social housing stock to a standard given that these properties have been long neglected. Note that only a portion of the investment returns will be used to fund acute housing needs on an ongoing basis which includes $200 million (nationwide) for the repair, maintenance and improvements of housing in remote Indigenous communities. So Labor are having a go to address the problem but the Greens have sided with the Coalition because they want more:
But what is more?
The Greens are saying: "In a wealthy country like Australia, everyone should have a good, affordable place to call home.
Yet right now hundreds of thousands of people can’t find an affordable home, rents are soaring, young people are locked out of owning their own home, and the wait lists for public and community housing are growing. In the middle of this massive crisis, Labor’s proposed solution to the crisis is to invest $10 billion in the stock market through the Future Fund and only spend some of the returns on housing. We wouldn’t gamble spending on health and education in this way, so why is the government doing this for housing? Even if their gamble pays off, Labor’s five year housing plan will see the crisis get worse, because it does nothing for renters or home buyers and will see the shortage of public housing end up bigger than it is now. The Greens are fighting for the millions of people Labor is leaving behind. What are they suggesting: By scrapping tax handouts for property moguls, we could fund building 225,000 publicly owned homes over the next decade, and immediately acquiring vacant and off-the-plan homes for those who can't afford to wait years for a roof over their heads. But who are these property moguls in Eurobodalla? Some are the 40% non resident ratepayers who have holiday houses in the Shire for themselves and rent them out as short term rentals to cover costs. Then there are others who have bought a home here whilst working elsewhere with a dream of one day retiring here. The houses are rented to assist with the mortgage of the property or to provide an investment income. Oddly both the short term holiday properties and the permanent rentals pay tax on their incomes as you would expect of any investment property. Under the rules that apply to all businesses it is allowable to claim maintenance and renewal costs. What if t was a factory building instead of a house or apartment? But the Greens say: By scrapping tax handouts for property moguls, we could fund building 225,000 publicly owned homes over the next decade, and immediately acquiring vacant and off-the-plan homes for those who can't afford to wait years for a roof over their heads. What do they demand? Labor should be offering incentives to the states to freeze rent increases. Immediately push for a freeze on rent increases through National Cabinet by offering $1 billion a year in extra funding, which states could use to purchase affordable homes right away
Let's pull that apart for those 40% non-resident ratepayers in Eurobodalla, many of who would have mortgages and would be feeling the effects of the multiple rate rises by the RBA. 'Immediately push for a freeze on rent increases through National Cabinet' This would mean that if the mortgage rate goes up you wear it. If you are, like many, an owner of a home on the south coast that is rented then you wear the mortgage increases, the rate increases and any increases in trades and services that are on the increase above CPI. Now in the same sentence the Greens add 'by offering $1 billion a year in extra funding, which states could use to purchase affordable homes right away' So they want to freeze rent increases that would apply to the 3,730 that were identified as being rented during the 2021 Census. On Census night 2021 there were 16603 houses in the Shire. Of those 6226 were unoccupied. Many are suggesting these are either holiday homes or short term rentals. Some even suggest that if they were made available to the rental market it would increase affordable housing stock. e fact of the matter is that if the house is a holiday house or a short term rental it is most likely in the range that would be unaffordable for most to buy.
So the Greens are blocking the only solution on the table by saying they demand a National rent freeze and a guaranteed minimum spend of $2.5 billion per year on public, community and affordable housing. Those numbers translate as $2,500,000,000 per year, spread over eight states and territories giving each a fair share of $312,500,000 each. With NSW having an average build cost for an affordable three bedroom house of around $1,000,000 house and land that would translate to 312 houses across NSW divided evenly amoung the 128 councils, giving Eurobodalla 2.4 houses. The major question on any discussion around affordable housing is the term affordable - exactly what is affordable. The Anglicare Australia 2023 Rental Affordability Snapshot surveyed over 45,000 rental listings across Australia and found that affordability has crashed to record lows saying: Rental affordability is a significant concern for vulnerable populations in the NSW Southeast area. The housing crisis in rural and regional NSW includes an overheated rental market, housing stock lost to natural disasters, short-term holiday rentals, and landlords hoping to cash in on city folk migrating to the country (Beazley, 2023). Due to the shortage of affordable rental accommodation, some residents are resorting to camping grounds or crisis accommodation, while others are becoming homeless (Azzopardi, 2023).
source So back to the stance of the Greens to block the Labor initiative. The detail of their plans are thin on the ground. With soaring mortgage rates and council rates and charges those who dare admit they have an investment property in the Eurobodalla are, by the Greens approach, to be forced by law to freeze rents, tarred as property moguls, and render those with vacant holiday homes as selfish. And as for their $2.5 billion per year guaranteed minimum spend on community and social housing the Eurobodalla looks set to secure 2.4 additional houses.
In all the noise around this there is little in the way of any description of what an affordable house looks like. We've come a long way from the simple homes of the 50's. Maybe it is time to establish a standard before we go headlong into building the 225,000 publicly owned homes the Greens say they could deliver (without any detail) over the next decade.
Is the Labor plan the best? I don't know. From the first read it also has major questions that should be asked like What? Where? Who? and How?