Citing its lack of impact in tackling homelessness and increasing housing affordability, the Commonwealth Government scrapped the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) in 2017, replacing it with the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA).
The NHHA has the broad aim of improving housing options for those on low-incomes and funding services for the homeless. It is a multilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, supported by separate bilateral agreements with each jurisdiction.
In a positive sign for the industry, the NHHA names community housing as one of its six priority areas.
Unfortunately, the new legislation seems unlikely to improve accountability or transparency around how taxpayers’ funds are used. As the NHHA is currently drafted, it requires little more from state and territory governments than to produce an annual housing plan and an annual homelessness plan, to provide better data and reporting on housing related activities.
CHIA’s Board outlined the industry’s views and concerns about the NAHA with the Principal Adviser, Social Policy Division, Australian Treasury, Marty Robinson before the Commonwealth began its negotiations with the states and territories, and continued its engagement with Treasury throughout the year.
CHIA’s submission on the draft legislation to the Senate Economics Committee called for greater accountability on the use of Commonwealth funds under the agreement, and for an observable improvement in the supply of social and affordable housing.
At the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry in January 2018, CHIA Chair Michael Lennon reiterated CHIA’s call for a national housing strategy to provide the critical national oversight needed to fix Australia’s social housing shortfall.