‘Housing Affordability’ is not the same as ‘Affordable Housing’

If we just look at the news headlines about housing becoming increasingly affordable in Western Australia, the news is not good for all Western Australians.

“There is not enough affordable homes for people who cannot afford to rent or buy at market prices in WA” said Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA. “‘Housing affordability’ is not the same as ‘affordable housing’. Housing for purchase or even rental remains completely unaffordable for many lower-income households across our State, despite the headlines as their incomes are low relative to housing expenditure.”

“One of the most significant challenges facing our nation is to make housing more affordable for Australians across the board, particularly for those on low and moderate incomes, This challenge requires action on a range of fronts including major tax reform, planning system reform and changes to the way we assist lower-income renters and home buyers.” said Ms. Mackenzie

An effective social housing system, in which governments and community organisations provide affordable rental housing to lower-income households, remains vital to a fully functioning housing market. For many households it represents their only option for secure housing. The current wait list for social housing is over 2 years with around 14,000 households on the waiting list. Housing affordability is completely out of their reach.

And whilst access to the private rental market is critical, evidence suggests that only 1 per cent of rentals in the market are affordable for a person on income support, and 1.4 per cent affordable for a person on the minimum wage.  

“People are facing an insurmountable challenge in securing affordable housing, and the great Australian dream is fading further and further away ’’

“We have a whole group of people who are just trying to get a roof over their heads. Put simply, there is a critical need for more affordable housing to address the needs of people who cannot afford market rents. ”

The solutions are on hand - increase affordable housing supply, increase rent assistance for those experiencing the greatest housing stress, and increase income support so people can actually afford the basic essentials, like a place to call home.

“A good, logical start would be the development of a national affordable housing and homelessness strategy, coordinating the different policy levers across all spheres of Governments in collaboration with the community and private sector.” said Ms Mackenzie. So too would be building affordable homes and ensuring access to affordable rental properties for all.

Media Contact:

04019 931 819 – Michelle Mackenzie, CEO Shelter WA