Homelessness and housing affordability in Australia

‘Homelessness and housing affordability’ is Chapter 4 in the Australia’s welfare 2023: data insights.

This page provides a high-level overview of the key messages presented in Chapter 4. 

Download the full article: Chapter 4 [PDF 820 kB]

Download the full report: Australia’s welfare 2023: data insights [PDF 11.1 MB].

Access to safe, adequate housing is central to the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. Secure and affordable housing is the basis for social connectedness and a contributor to the social determinants of health and wellbeing. 

Housing costs, be that the cost of servicing a housing loan or the cost of rent, are a major component of the household budget. Housing affordability has become an issue in Australia particularly in recent years with increases in the price of purchasing a home and strong increases in the cost of private rental accommodation.

This chapter explores homelessness and housing affordability in Australia by discussing:

  • homelessness in Australia - including insights into people experiencing homelessness such as the reasons they seek support, repeat homelessness, and risk factors associated with people receiving long-term support.
  • housing pathways out of homelessness.
  • government housing-related support. 

What is in this chapter?

Homelessness in Australia

Homelessness is a visible and extreme form of social exclusion and has severe adverse social, health, and economic consequences for people.  In 2019, an estimated 2.2 million Australians had been without a permanent place to live at some point in their lives (ABS 2020).

The reasons people experience homelessness can involve structural factors (i.e. a lack of income, employment, or access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing) and personal circumstances (i.e. relationship changes, disability, mental or health issues, and family and domestic violence, or trauma).

This chapter explores:

  • trends in homelessness over time
  • insights into Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients experiencing homelessness
  • reasons for seeking support from SHS agencies
  • ongoing and repeat homelessness
  • insights into long-term support from SHS.

Housing pathways out of homelessness

The housing pathways out of homelessness require participation in the housing market, and this can be challenging for people experiencing homelessness.

Broadly, the housing market in Australia consists of homes owned by the people living in them (be that with or without a mortgage), private rental accommodation and social housing.  

This chapter describes some of the features of the housing market including:

  • social housing (stock, allocations and waiting lists)
  • increased reliance on the private housing market
  • housing affordability challenges
  • home ownership. 

Government housing-related support

Governments develop policies to deliver a range of support services to assist people to avoid homelessness and to those experiencing homelessness. Over time, there have been a range of policies and intergovernmental agreements relating to housing and homelessness as well as a range of direct and indirect interventions in the housing market. This chapter explores:

  • government spending on housing and homelessness support services
  • financial support for renters
  • government-funded Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS).

Where do I go for more information?