Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic housing policy responses

This report reviews Australia’s COVID-19 housing policy responses to better understand their intervention approach, underlying logic, short and long-term goals, target groups and level of success.

Short-term Stimulus

The research finds the national and state policy measures implemented to support home ownership achieved the desired goal of providing short-term stimulus to the residential building sector and support to the broader economy. However, a range of anticipated and unforeseen consequences have precipitated as a result of concentrated demand-side subsidies, low interest rates and flexible lending conditions.

According to the report, the state-to-state infrastructure and approaches that were developed rapidly and which supported jurisdictional responses to COVID-19 provide a template for a shelf-ready policy-sharing practice that warrants supported development across governments. This could usefully include local government as well as state and territory and national tiers of governance.

Social Housing and Homelessness Interventions

Some of the report summarises and assesses the effectiveness of social housing and homelessness-focussed interventions undertaken by national, state, and territory governments during the pandemic, including;

  • Building social housing in response to the pandemic has been an important source of economic stimulus and re-investment in housing infrastructure, particularly in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. However, these are state level initiatives, with no centralised fiscal or policy support from the Australian Government—a fact which is likely to limit these schemes’ success beyond the short-term pandemic response.
  • The realisation that street homelessness had the potential to lead to rapid contagion helped to trigger significant unbudgeted investment in homelessness services early in the pandemic. This mainly took the form of emergency accommodation provision, outreach activities and, in numerous jurisdictions, transition programs from emergency to more stable housing outcomes.

Researchers

It was undertaken by researchers from The University of South Australia, University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, Curtin University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Tasmania and the University of Glasgow.

Further Details

Download the full report here.