A report released yesterday by Compass Housing Services has outlined the dire situation regarding Australia’s social housing, with nearly 200,000 homes needed by 2031.

The report calls for Federal Government intervention, due to state governments having limited capacity to house people on waiting lists and no capacity to cater for future demands.

Lead-author Professor David Adamson says the issue is too big for state governments to handle.

“There are approximately 169,000 households on social housing waiting lists across Australia and under the current system most of them will never be allocated a property,” he says.

“Over the next decade the states and territories are planning to build just 66,000 social housing properties. Even if they hit their targets, they will have undershot the existing level of demand by 60%, or more than 100,000 homes.

“If you include the additional demand from population growth over the period in question the shortfall increases to more than 196,000 homes.”

The report calls on the Commonwealth to take the lead on a national partnership between all levels of government, community housing organisations, and the private sector.

Report co-author Martin Kennedy says the problems facing the social housing system are part of a broader housing crisis that has been building for 30 years.

“Home ownership rates have collapsed, the share of renters in housing stress is increasing and social housing waiting lists are out of control,” he says. 

“The Commonwealth insists social housing is a state responsibility, but that arrangement isn’t working. If we keep expecting the states to fix a problem that is clearly beyond them, an increasing proportion of the population will experience socially damaging levels of inequality and financial hardship.

Everybody’s Home national spokesperson, Kate Colvin believes federal intervention is paramount to solving the crisis.

“The federal-state blame game is arid and gets us nowhere. A ballooning number of Australians on low and middle incomes simply cannot compete for housing in the booming private sales and rental market.

“We need a breakthrough in co-operation quickly, otherwise Australia will confront a social catastrophe. State governments simply do not have the fiscal firepower to build enough social housing. Unless the Federal Government steps up, homelessness services and other health and welfare services will be overwhelmed.

To read the report in full, click here.