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Mar 9, 2017

Anglicare WA has welcomed news that the Commonwealth Government is looking to establish an independent finance body to attract large scale private investment in social and affordable housing.

Acting chief executive for Anglicare WA, Mark Glasson, said that despite the downturn in the Western Australian housing market, rental affordability was still very difficult for thousands of people on low and fixed incomes.

“Recent data from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA), show that the median rent for units and apartments across Perth is $340 per week, and $380 for houses.

“To put that in context, an unemployed single person receives around $265 per week on Newstart Allowance, so you can see the financial stress on housing costs alone.   

“While these costs are down significantly from a few years ago when the mining and population boom was at its peak, the fact is that people on unemployment benefits, pensions or casual part-time work still struggle to find and maintain suitable accommodation,” Mr Glasson said.  

Mr Glasson said there needed to be more serious investment in social housing to protect the most vulnerable in society and to prevent systemic homelessness.

“In this regard we are pleased to see that renters, who represent over one third of Australians, are being considered in the Government’s proposal. This number is growing as is the length of time people spend in rental accommodation.

“There are more than 200,000 people on social housing waiting lists around Australia,” he said.

The Government’s announcement builds on the work of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and a model for a bond aggregator agency proposed by housing associations last year.

It has broad support from superannuation funds and banks and adapts the successful approach used in the UK and other countries.

The Government is proposing that an Australian bond aggregator would combine  the debt of individual housing providers, allowing them to borrow at a scale necessary to unlock investment from superannuation funds at low cost over the long term.

“While this is a good start to addressing the issue of affordability, the Commonwealth needs to do more in other areas including reform of negative gearing rules and the Capital Gains Tax concessions.

“At a State level, the Government needs to review the impact of stamp duty on housing for low-income households,” Mr Glasson said.

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