Shelter Tas, the State’s peak body for housing and homelessness, has welcomed the State Government’s ongoing funding of Tasmania’s Affordable Housing Strategy in the 2017 budget, with a commitment of $62m over the next 2 years. This creates a solid base for implementing the Strategy, however without additional funds, Tasmania will continue to fall behind in meeting the growing affordable housing demand.
Whilst it is pleasing to see a focus on health, employment and child protection in the State budget announcement, to achieve the best outcomes in these areas, it is crucial that people also have access to appropriate and affordable housing.
“We know that for every $1 spent on housing, the Government saves $2 in health costs alone, and research has shown a positive relationship between housing, education and workforce participation. This just goes to show that appropriate housing is the lynchpin of health and wellbeing and more needs to be done to ensure the needs of Tasmanians are met,” Ms Chugg said.
The recent Rental Affordability Index and Rental Affordability Snapshot continue to show that housing affordability is in decline in Tasmania, and that the problem is deepening and broadening, with both these reports revealing a growing need for affordable rental properties in Tasmania.
“In light of these recent reports, more needs to be done to secure properties for low-income Tasmanians. We are disappointed that the $60m Stamp Duty windfall created by the housing boom will not be re-invested into alleviating the rental crisis for those being squeezed out of the market. It is hard to feel secure in your old age if your pension can’t cover the rent, or to start a family, or to get on with your education and hold down a job if you can’t find secure housing,” Ms Chugg said.
A positive from this years’ budget was the Youth Accommodation Facility in Moonah which has secured $800,000 for running costs, as well as new money to improve existing public housing properties. With a shortage of accommodation available for young people in Tasmania and the alarming fact that around 40% of people seeking homelessness support are less than 24 years old, this comes as very welcome news to the housing and homelessness sector.
“These young people are our future. It follows that investment in affordable housing means an investment in Tasmania’s future,” Ms Chugg said.
Shelter Tas also welcomes improvements to accessing the affordable housing market, with the $6m funding for a HomeShare program to assist low-income Tasmanians purchase their own home, the continuation of the First Home Builder’s Grant and reduced Stamp Duty on new housing.
Shelter Tas looks forward to working on the Affordable Housing Working Group, which has been established to investigate innovative ways to look at land use for affordable housing.
To build on the Affordable Housing Strategy and recent announcement of a new national housing agreement in the Federal budget, Shelter Tas would like to see the State government take this opportunity to negotiate away Tasmania’s public housing debt.
“Tasmanian can no longer afford to return half of our much needed funding in debt repayments. Of the nearly $29m received each year, we send almost $16m back to the Federal government,” Ms Chugg said.
Pattie Chugg Shelter Tas Executive Officer