Social housing wait lists shorten

Although waiting list numbers remain high, there were 6,000 fewer households on housing assistance waiting lists in 2015 (200,000 households as at 30 June 2015) than there were the previous year, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Housing assistance in Australia 2016, presents data on a range of social housing programs provided by both government and non-government agencies. These include public rental housing, community housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), and Indigenous community housing, as well as home purchase assistance and rent assistance.

As at 30 June 2015, there were 427,800 social housing dwellings across Australia (about 4% of all households) with around 817,300 tenants, the majority (82%) of whom lived in public rental housing. Across all social housing programs, over 3 in 5 main tenants (62%) were women. Among public housing tenants, 44% reported they had a disability and 53% were single adults who lived alone.

'Almost 75% of new public rental housing and community housing were provided to people with the greatest need, with 59% of households indicating they were homeless prior to commencing their public rental housing tenancy,' said AIHW spokesperson Mr Tim Beard.

While the stock of public rental housing decreased 5% as a proportion of overall social housing stock between 2008–09 and 2014–15, community housing increased by 76% over the same period, and the number of households living in mainstream community housing almost doubled (from 37,800 to 69,500).

About 4% of both public rental housing and community housing was considered overcrowded, with the highest rates experienced in Queensland for SOMIH (13%) and in the Northern Territory for public rental housing (7%).

Conversely, around 16% of public rental housing and 12% of community housing was considered underutilised. A dwelling is said to be 'underutilised' when it consists of 2 or more bedrooms surplus to the household requirements; often arising as a household ages and children leave the family home. Underutilisation was highest in South Australia (26% of public rental housing and 28% for SOMIH).

As well as providing disadvantaged Australians with somewhere to live, housing assistance is available to help meet rent costs through the Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA) or the Private Rent Assistance (PRA) programs.

PRA programs assisted 123,100 people in 2014–15, with over half of these recipients under 34 years of age.

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, 2 June, 2016

Further information: Mr Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1270: mob. 0418 271 395