Households in housing stress, a million and a half have received help

The cost of housing and a shortfall in housing supply are creating housing stress for many Australians, with over a million and a half households being helped by Government housing assistance programs, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'The ratio of median house prices to median household income has more than doubled in the past 30 years,' said David Wilson of the Institute's Housing Assistance Unit.

'And housing supply is not meeting demand, with an estimated shortfall of about 30,000 dwellings in 2007, and more in future years.'

'The stresses are showing up even after assistance has been provided. For example, 35% of households receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance are still, after assistance, paying more than 30% of their household incomes on their rent, which is a common measure for housing stress,' Mr Wilson said.

These are just some of the many facts put together in this reference publication about housing assistance in Australia.

According to the AIHW report, Housing assistance in Australia, governments in Australia spend over $4 billion each year on housing assistance programs. The four largest are:

  • the 2003 Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA)
  • the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme (CRA)
  • the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) scheme
  • the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP)

The CSHA provided assistance to over 334,000 public renter households and 34,000 community housing tenants in 2007.

Nearly 1 million Australians renting privately received help through the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme.

States and territories provided $78 million of CSHA-funded private rent assistance to more than 134,000 households.

Home purchasers also received assistance with $1 billion in loans and other assistance provided under the CSHA to 36,000 households.

In addition, each year approximately 107,000 households receive $7,000 of assistance at the time of their home purchase through the First Home Owner Grant.

Despite Australia's current period of economic prosperity, and the fact that the majority of Australians have suitable housing, homelessness continues to be a major social problem that, on a given night, affects more than 100,000 Australians, many of them children.

The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) is the major government response to homelessness. In 2005-06 the Program provided assistance to 161,000 people, including 54,000 children.

Friday 22 February 2008

Further information: David Wilson, AIHW mob. 0419 251 763.