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Soaring rents across the country are leaving too many people with nowhere to live. The Productivity Commission’s study of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, released last month, found that a significant majority of low-income households are living in rental stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

This report applies a gender lens to the housing crisis. It finds that women and children escaping family violence, single mothers and older single women are most at risk of falling into homelessness due to a crisis in affordable housing that has been years in the making.

While census data suggests that homelessness is a bigger problem for men, this report finds that it is women who are at the forefront of this crisis. Women make up the majority of tenants in social housing and are by far the greatest users of Specialist Homelessness Services across the country.

Social housing stocks have declined markedly over the past three decades, and now make up just 3 per cent of all residences, down from 6 per cent in the early 1990s. While state and federal governments have recently committed more funding to increase the social housing stocks, this alone won’t solve the crisis. Australia needs a big investment to create a lot more secure, affordable housing for low-income people, especially women. This requires the private sector, led by institutional and social impact investors, developers, and philanthropists, to step up to the challenge.

This report sets out that challenge and proposes some solutions.

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