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The substantial shortfall in supply of social housing has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and both state and federal responses to what is increasingly perceived as a major crisis in the social and private renting sectors. Contrary to many expectations, following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market in Australia has not collapsed.
Since mid-2020 housing market activity has increased dramatically with excess demand, not only in the major cities but also in regional areas as new work flexibility has permitted movement from the city. Reporting of this unanticipated market phenomenon has also focused on the plight of renters in this increasingly hot market and the paucity of rental properties available throughout Australia forcing rental prices to new levels. For many renters this has meant eviction as landlords attempt to capitalise on the rising market potential of properties. Additionally, in contrast to past high levels of market activity there has been less focus on the plight of first-time buyers and increasing media attention given to the social housing shortage.
This report explores the capacity of states to meet the level of social housing shortfall that is currently evident. Despite having drastically reduced the scope of their mission by restricting eligibility to a very narrow subset of the community, state and territory housing authorities are still failing to keep up with demand. Australia’s state and territory governments currently have plans in place to deliver a combined total of 66,125 social housing dwellings over the next decade. This leaves a shortfall of 102,883 dwellings to house the applicants currently on the combined waiting lists. Put simply, even if the states manage to hit the targets in their respective plans, (itself no sure thing), they will have failed to meet the immediate housing needs more than 100,000 families.