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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed underlying vulnerabilities in Australia’s housing system. Overcrowding, share accommodation, and precarious tenures are rising in the major cities and some regional areas where permanent rental supply has been drained by short-term tourism platforms. With inadequate housing increasing the risk of disease transmission and other health impacts under the pandemic, it is critical to better understand these informal and largely unregulated sectors of the housing system.
This is the final report of an AHURI Scoping Project which examines these issues, focussing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the linked housing forms of marginal, informal and short-term rental (STR) accommodation. The aims of the Scoping Project were: to establish any health and housing risks of marginal and informal housing revealed or exacerbated during COVID-19; investigate any potential changes to the demand and supply of informal housing due to the pandemic; determine the change to demand and supply of informal short-term tourism rentals during COVID-19 and, finally, the related positive or negative affect on housing supply of these changes.
Through interview data, it was revealed that government and non-government action during the COVID-19 pandemic has improved the housing circumstances of people living in marginal accommodation. In particular, increased income support during the pandemic period, as well as some government programs targeting people experiencing homelessness, have reportedly enabled some lower income groups to improve their housing circumstances, exiting marginal or informal accommodation.