Use of community housing more than doubles in a decade

The number of households in community housing has more than doubled between 2007–08 and 2016–17, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today.

Community housing is one type of social housing available in Australia, run by not-for-profit housing organisations. Public housing is managed by state and territory governments, as are specialist Indigenous housing programs (known as state owned and managed Indigenous housing, or SOMIH).

The report, Housing assistance in Australia 2018, shows that while public housing continues to be the most commonly used form of social housing—providing services to almost 80% of households in social housing —the number of households in community housing has more than doubled (rising by 117%) since 2007–08.

‘In 2007–08, there were around 35,000 households in community housing, but this had risen to 76,000 in 2016–17,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.

Australia’s population has grown at a faster rate than social housing, and as a result, the share of households in social housing has fallen since 2007-08. The most commonly provided form of government support is Commonwealth Rent Assistance, which was provided to 1.34 million individuals or couples at June 2017.

The report also shows that community housing generally has lower rates of underuse than other social housing programs. About 7% of community housing households were considered to be in underutilised dwellings (that is, having more bedrooms than is needed for the household), compared to 17% of public rental dwellings and 26% of SOMIH dwellings.

‘SOMIH dwellings were also the most likely to be overcrowded, with 24% considered to be too small for the household living in it,’ Mr James said.

‘Comparatively, 4% of both community household and public housing households were considered overcrowded.’

The report also shows that new allocations in social housing programs are going to those most in need. In 2016–17, around three in four (73%) newly allocated public housing dwellings and over four in five (86%) community housing dwellings were provided to those in greatest need.

Those in greatest need of social housing support (both low-income families and individuals experiencing adversity – for example currently or at risk of homelessness) spent the least amount of time on waiting lists. More than two in five (45%) households on the public housing waiting list and almost two thirds (64%) of households on the SOMIH waiting list allocated housing in under 3 months. The number of applicants on social housing waitlists at 30 June 2017 was around 189,000; 3 in 10 were new applicants in greatest need of social housing support.

Today’s report also highlights the decline in home ownership, with the most notable fall among young people. In 1971, 64% of 30–34 year olds and 50% of 25–29 year olds owned their home, with this rate falling to 50% and 37%, respectively, in 2016.


Previous article Next article