The Federal Government has announced it will provide $124.7 million over two years from 2021 to 2022 to support workers in the housing and homelessness sector.

The funding will be provided to states and territories under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to assist them to bolster public housing stocks or to meet wage requirements under the 2011 Fair Work Australia decision on social and community services wages where that requirement has not already been met.

While additional funding in this sector is always welcome, this announcement does not go far enough to bolster the dire need for additional social housing stock.

It is worth remembering the wait lists for households that meet social housing eligibility criteria are:

  • 49,644 in Victoria (December 2020);
  • 51,395 in NSW (June 2020);
  • 25,853 in QLD (June 2020);
  • 14,016 in WA (2019); and
  • 18,577 in SA (2019).

The above lists are getting longer and not shorter as time goes on. The Federal Government budget announcements for this year do not attempt to resolve this ongoing problem.

The NRAS Scheme, which was established by the Federal Government in 2008, is winding down and will conclude in 2026. There are currently 36,370 allocations in that scheme nationally and they will wind down up until 2026. As they wind down, there will be no market incentive for that stock to continue to be used for affordable housing tenants. The sector has been looking to the Federal Government for a replacement to this scheme and this has not been forthcoming.

While the Federal Government has announced spending of $782.1 million over four years from 2021-2022 to increase home ownership and support jobs in the residential construction sector, this spending will not provide additional housing stock for social housing tenants and is unlikely to provide homes for affordable housing tenants that qualify for the NRAS scheme based on the current increases in property prices in the residential housing sector.