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As at 30 June 2014, almost 1.32 million income units received Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), up from 1.27 million in 2013.

The number of income units receiving CRA has risen by 41% since 2000. 67% of income units receiving CRA would have paid more than 30% of their income on rent if they were not assisted by CRA payments.

There were 394,000 households in government-funded social housing in Australia in 2013-14, while nearly 206,000 applicants were on waiting lists according to new data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The number of households in social housing which covers public, community and Indigenous housing was up 4% from 2007-08. Waiting lists remain long, as do waiting times for allocation - 46% of public rental housing allocations that were classified as in greatest need spent more than 2 years on a waiting list.

Around three-quarters (74%) of the newly-allocated social housing in 2013-14 went to households in greatest need.

'Households in greatest need are highly vulnerable groups such as people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, households where there is a member with a disability, or the main tenant is aged either under 25, or is 75 or older, or where the household has one or more Indigenous members', said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

'The rising cost of public housing managed and run by state and territory housing authorities has seen a transfer of ownership or management to the community housing sector run by non-government and not-for-profit organisations', Mr Neideck said.

Between 2007-08 and 2013-14, the number of public housing households fell from 331,000 to 317,000, while mainstream community housing households rose from 36,000 to 67,000.

Governments also assist households with home purchase assistance. In 2013-14, 61,200 first home owner grants were paid in Australia (excluding the Australian Capital Territory), down from 114,800 in 2011-12. This decrease is largely due to changing eligibility requirements surrounding the First Home Owners Grant scheme, such as grants only being administered to newly constructed dwellings across many jurisdictions.

In 2013-14, states and territories provided home purchase assistance to 44,000 recipients compared with 40,300 the year before.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 29 May 2015

Further information: Mr Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1163; mob. 0439 878 933

Full publication: Housing Assistance Australia 2015