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CHIA calls for national housing strategy

CHIA Chair Michael Lennon has told the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) that a national housing strategy is absolutely critical to fix Australia’s social housing shortfall

Michael told the Senate inquiry that halting and reversing the decline of social housing stock over the past 15 years would take a significant commitment from all levels of government and all political parties, over several decades and is unlikely to be achieved without national oversight

The inquiry is investigating the development of an agreement that will replace the existing National Affordable Housing Agreement between the states and the Commonwealth, which has failed to deliver an increase in social housing over the past decade.

The new agreement presents the perfect opportunity for the states and the Commonwealth to collaborate on a National Housing Strategy to guide investment over the longer term, Michael told the inquiry.

‘A National Housing Strategy is one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. If the NHHA legislation requires states and territories to have housing and homelessness strategies, it is entirely appropriate that the Commonwealth also has a National Strategy,’ Michael said.

‘In fact, it makes no sense to plan otherwise.’

Michael also detailed the core elements that needed to be included in state and territory housing strategies, such as specific targets and strategies to improve Indigenous housing outcomes, mechanisms to support the bond aggregator in providing long-term and low cost finance for social housing, and consistent national regulation and standards to be applied equally to community and public housing.

Michael also argued that the states and territories should transfer 50 per cent of public housing dwellings to the community housing sector.

‘Community housing is the only arm of social housing which is growing in size, capacity, and sophistication. Unlike public housing, community housing has a strong track record of leveraging assets to increase the number and quality of social housing dwellings.

‘Expanding the community housing sector also provides healthy competition and promotes choice for tenants.’

Download CHIA’s full submission to the inquiry.