Slow growth in social housing dwellings across Australia

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown there were 440,200 social housing dwellings nationwide at June 2021, an increase of less than 1% in the previous 12 months.

The report, Housing assistance in Australia, shows that two-thirds (68%) of social housing dwellings were public housing, one-quarter (25%) were community housing and a smaller proportion were Indigenous community housing, and state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), representing 4% and 3%, respectively.

‘While there has been a steady increase in the number of households in social housing over the decade to mid-2021 social housing has not kept pace with the growth in the overall number of households in Australia,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips (PhD).

‘From 2011 to 2021, the proportion of social housing households declined from 4.8% to 4.2%.’

Around 790,000 Australians were living in the nation’s three main social housing programs in 2020–21. The majority (70%) lived in public housing, with almost one-quarter (24%) in community housing and around 6% in SOMIH.

The report also details the continued trend of an increasing proportion of social housing being managed by community housing organisations.

‘The number of community housing dwellings more than tripled between 2006 and 2021 from 32,300 to 108,500, partly due to the transfer of ownership or management of public housing dwellings to community organisations,’

The number of public housing dwellings decreased from 341,400 in 2006 to 299,500 in 2021.

‘The allocation of social housing is based on eligibility and can be dependent upon a number of factors including greatest need, wait times and priority group allocations,’ Dr. Phillips said.  

Households considered to be in greatest need spent less time waiting than other households. For newly allocated public housing, 44% of households in greatest need were allocated housing in less than 3 months while the majority (76%) received housing within one year.

'At the end of June 2021, about 1.5 million individuals or groups of related persons received Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), with a median fortnightly payment of $138, equivalent to 29% of median fortnightly rent ($475 per fortnight),’ Dr. Phillips said.

‘Of those receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance, almost half (46%) were in rental stress, where housing costs are more than 30% of the gross household income.’

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