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This report presents information on trends and issues in housing policy, housing affordability and housing assistance provided to populations with special needs.


Secure and affordable housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of Australians. It provides a platform for a range of benefits, including stable employment, connection to the community and a sense of home. Unfortunately, a large number of Australians are not able to access affordable, suitable housing. There is a range of assistance available for eligible Australians who may have difficulties securing affordable housing-collectively referred to as housing assistance in this report. The most common types of housing assistance are social housing, rent assistance and home purchase assistance.

Housing issues in Australia

  • Demand for housing is expected to continue to outstrip supply. There was a shortfall of around 284,000 dwellings in 2011; the rise in Australia's population (particularly the ageing population) and falling household sizes are expected to make this issue worse.
  • Home ownership is becoming less affordable for younger Australians and low- to moderate-income earners. In 1981, 61% of young people aged 25-34 were purchasing or owned their homes; by 2011 it was 47%.
  • The proportion of low-income households paying more than 30% of their income in rent has risen. In 2007-08, 37% of low-income households were in rental stress compared to 44% in 2011-12. The proportion of rental stress was higher (60%) for the lowest 10% of households by income in 2011-12.

Financial assistance with housing costs

  • Financial assistance with housing costs reduces rental stress. As at 30 June 2013, there were about 1.3 million recipients of assistance under the Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) program. CRA has a major impact on households' rental affordability, with a 27 percentage point reduction in the number of low-income recipients in housing stress after receiving CRA.
  • Many low-income households and first home buyers received help to purchase their homes. In 2012-13, 92,000 people received a First Home Owner Grant. Additionally, around 40,000 Australian households received support from Home Purchase Assistance programs.

Social housing

  • Waiting lists for social housing continue to grow and supply is not keeping up. As at 30 June 2013, there were over 217,000 households on public rental housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing and mainstream community housing waiting lists across Australia.
  • Overall, social housing tenants are satisfied. At 30 June 2013, around 414,000 households were living in social housing. Of those surveyed, the majority of tenants were satisfied with the services that their housing organisation provided (74% for community housing and 65% for public rental housing).
  • Social housing continues to be targeted to people in greatest need. In 2012-13, 77% of allocations to public rental housing and 65% to SOMIH were for greatest need applicants-particularly those who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
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