Managing Access to Social Housing in Australia

Low-income earners in Australia can face a wait of more than 10 years for a tenancy, as social rental queuing times increase due to growing public and community housing scarcity, according to this report from the UNSW City Futures Research Centre.

The report, Managing Access to Social Housing in Australia, shows that a decade of minimal investment into social housing has resulted in a plummeting supply. Just under 30,000 social housing applicants were granted a social housing tenancy during 2020–21 in Australia – a 42 per cent decrease from 1991 and a 61 per cent reduction proportionate to national population.

The research shows state government investment such as the new social housing builds promised in Victoria will make a difference only if they can be maintained in the long term with the help of strong federal government backing.

Key Points

  • In 2020-21 just under 30,000 applicants were granted a social housing tenancy, Australia-wide, compared with 52,000 in 1991 – a 42 per cent reduction. Proportionate to population, the latest figure is 61 per cent down over the period.
  • The three years to 2021 saw overall social housing waiting list numbers rising by 16 per cent, Australia-wide, to 164,000 households – largely reflecting more substantial increases in Queensland, Victoria, ACT and NT. Nationally, the annual number of ‘new greatest need applications’ grew by 48 per cent during this timeframe.

Read the UNSW City Futures Research Centre report here.