AHURI’s COVID-19 Research Hub releases first report

AHURI has released the first report that has been developed for its COVID-19 Research Hub, which it set up in May this year.

The hub houses AHURI’s latest research, policy analysis and news on housing, homelessness and urban responses to COVID-19 that fall under eight priority research areas. The aim is to help governments at all levels make the best housing policy decisions during and following the coronavirus pandemic.

The first piece of research, Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts, found almost 40 per cent of the renters surveyed could not afford essentials such as bills, clothing, transport and food, after paying rent, because their incomes had been reduced significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click to visit AHURI’s COVID-19 Research Hub.

Social housing pathways research

A new AHURI report examines pathways in, within and out of Australia’s social housing system. As part of the research, 76 past and present tenants and 33 primarily frontline practitioners were interviewed.

The report, Understanding the experience of social housing pathways, found that there are limited pathways for tenants to leave social housing for the private rental market, even for those who want to. The Australian private rental market is largely inaccessible, unaffordable and insecure for households that might otherwise have had the capacity to move on from social housing.

Read the report…

Identifying older Aussies at risk of homelessness

A new AHURI report investigates the issues affecting older Australians who are experiencing or facing homelessness.

The research, An effective homelessness services system for older Australians identified three broad groups of older Australians who become homeless: those with conventional housing histories who experience a financial or other ‘shock’ late in life, such as eviction from rental housing, the death of a spouse, or a decline in their health; those who had experienced long-term social exclusion and had previously experienced homelessness; and people with transient work and housing histories.

One of the findings was a recommendation to expand the Assistance with Care and Housing program (ACH) as a simple first step to better support this vulnerable group.

Click here to download the report.

AHURI finds high rates of homelessness in vet community

Approximately 5.3 per cent of Australian veterans who left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) between 2001 and 2018 experienced homelessness, AHURI research has revealed.

This rate of 5.3 per cent, which equates to 5,767 veterans, is significantly higher than that for the general population (1.9%), and although these rates are not directly comparable, this finding strongly suggests that veterans are over-represented in the Australian homeless population. It is also much higher than the estimate of around 3,000 homeless veterans previously assumed by government agencies such as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Read more…

Housing as infrastructure

Is social housing infrastructure?

Current research undertaken by AHURI on considering social housing as infrastructure is validating many of the points the community housing sector has been putting forward for years.

Social housing is not just a ‘nice to have’ or a housing option that should be targeted to the most vulnerable people in society. It has a measurable impact on productivity; it contributes to more equitable communities, and is the foundation upon which people who have been struggling to get by can begin to rebuild their lives.

However, subsidised housing requires a subsidy, and the sticking point for the past several decades is where this subsidy is going to come from. Capital grant programs have come and gone, with minimal growth in social housing supply in Victoria since the nation building stimulus package of 2009-10.

Governments have largely stepped away from building new social housing, with the community housing sector growing to become a significant social landlord in its own right.

Lately, the Victorian government has been exploring new ways to attract private investment, and encourage the planning system to deliver affordable housing where there otherwise might have been none. Though this is moving in the right direction, these efforts are still falling far short of the 3,000 social housing properties that Victoria needs to build every year just to meet the demands of the current wait list for social housing.

So what can we do, and how does reimagining social housing as infrastructure help?

AHURI’s research points to international examples of how social housing systems can achieve a variety of social and economic outcomes beyond just housing low-income households. A thriving social housing system can be used to drive a wide range of policy aims, from improving land use to driving innovation in construction methods.

But, whilst the arguments for treating social housing as a form of infrastructure are reasoned, we need to convince the general public and, through them, politicians and other decision makers that this is an issue that Australia can’t afford to ignore.

CHIA Vic is currently developing a tenant-focused outcomes framework that will enable the sector to identify and measure its social impact. This will enable us to frame the ‘social housing as infrastructure’ business case in a way that demonstrates the value of social housing, and its essential role in assisting tenants to live with dignity and participate in the economy.


AHURI report backs call for housing as infrastructure

Roads, rail, hospitals, schools are all defined as ‘essential infrastructure’; vital for the function of society. In the lead up to the state election, uncosted infrastructure projects were thrown on the table with gay abandon.

Politicians in hi-vis made dramatic claims about the benefits of multi-billion projects that will be decades in the making. Roads, rail, hospitals…defining something as ‘essential infrastructure’ is like sprinkling it with magic fairy dust – it’s ‘essential’ so they promise it now, and find the money later.

But what can be more essential and beneficial to a society than housing? If you don’t have a safe, appropriate place to call home, how can you hold down a job, go to school, contribute to your community?

Leading planning and economics firm SGS Economics & Planning agrees, with its research finding that reinstating social housing as essential infrastructure is needed ‘for a prosperous and inclusive Australia’. SGS has estimated every $1 outlaid by governments in social housing would generate a $3 social, environmental and economic return.

And AHURI has released a new report backing the call for housing to be considered essential infrastructure, and modelling five alternative pathways to funding social housing.

More than over 60,000 households in our state are in limbo, waiting for social housing. This includes 22,000 with urgent housing needs – women and families escaping family violence, homeless and elderly Victorians.

Whilst an additional 3,000 social housing properties annually for 10 years won’t fix this housing crisis, it is the minimum required to meet the housing needs of Victorians eligible for priority housing.

We know a building program of this scale is achievable, community housing organisations built 2,500 homes with Nation Building funds almost a decade ago – which was the last time Victoria implemented a significant social housing supply program.

As an added benefit, that social housing program created thousands of construction jobs and reduced the costs to our health service, justice system and emergency services that are a side effect of the housing crisis.

It’s time to acknowledge social housing is essential infrastructure and treat it a ‘must’ rather than a ‘nice to have’. And bring on that fairy dust.

Click here to download the AHURI report.

Pathways to housing tax reform

A new AHURI report released today puts forward an evidence-based strategy to overcome the political deadlock afflicting housing tax reform in Australia.

The final report from the AHURI Inquiry, ‘Pathways to housing tax reform‘, features innovative economic modelling and implementation timeframes to steer tax settings that progress the efficiency, equity and sustainability of housing tax policy, and also presents viable political pathways to achieving these outcomes.

-courtesy of AHURI