On August 3, JON STANHOPE, in his role as an adviser at Winnunga Nimmityjah, wrote the following letter to the ACT government…
“Dear Affordable Housing Project Team,
Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service is proposing to make a written contribution to the proposed new housing strategy. I am grateful for the discussion paper which has been issued and have read it with interest. It does, however, raise a number of questions on which I would welcome advice and assistance.
I would be grateful, therefore, if you would provide me with copies of the following:
- The Terms of Reference for the Affordable Housing Advisory Group.
- In the message from the Minister she refers to work which the Affordable Housing Advisory Group has done in recent months ‘to review what has been achieved so far and consider what further steps could be taken to improve housing affordability in the ACT’. I would be grateful for the outcomes of the review… and any documents and reports related to it.
- In the introduction to the discussion paper it is stated ‘the government has invested heavily in reviewing its current and previous efforts on delivering social and affordable housing.’ I would be grateful for advice on who undertook the reviews…(and)… for a copy of all reports and documents relating to those reviews.
- In the Chapter of the paper ‘Where Are We Now’ it is stated: ‘Approximately 37,000 dwelling sites have been released over the last 10 years against a demand of around 30,000 dwellings.’ I would be grateful if you would provide me with the data and modelling on which it was determined that demand for the period was ‘around 30,000 dwellings’. I would welcome advice on how many of the 37,000 ‘dwelling sites’ referred to were identified as being for detached housing and how many of them were for housing other than detached housing and for the…(relevant)… modelling.
- It would be helpful if you could advise me how many of the remaining 7000 dwelling sites that are claimed to be excess to demand are currently available for purchase and how many of them are for detached housing and the number that are currently available under the land rent scheme. It would also be helpful for those preparing submissions to have advice on the cost range of these dwelling sites and the number of blocks/sites in each cost range.
- It is noted on page 5 that the 2016 Census reports that the proportion of households in the ACT paying more than 30 per cent of their income on mortgage costs has fallen over the five years since the 2011 Census from 7.8 per cent to 5.5 per cent. The 2016 Census also reports that the proportion of households in Canberra living in a house which they own outright or over which they have a mortgage has also fallen and the number renting has increased. Has the government undertaken research into whether the fall in the number of households paying more than 30 per cent of their income on a mortgage is linked to the fact that fewer Canberrans are purchasing a home.
- I would welcome a copy of any modelling the ACT government has undertaken on the impact which the abolition of land tax would have on rental affordability in the ACT.
- Has the government undertaken any research on the role which negative gearing has in increasing the supply of rental accommodation?
- On page 6 of the discussion paper it is claimed that ‘an analysis of mortgage and rent serviceability showed that for households earning above $100,000 (that is the third quintile and above) affordable rents start at $579 per week and an affordable mortgage enables the purchase of a home starting at $483,000’. It is further noted on page 7 that for households with an annual income between $55,000 and $100,000 that an affordable mortgage would allow the purchase of a home between $260,000 and $483,000. I would be grateful for any information the government may have on the number of detached houses sold or for sale over say the last year for under $483,000 i.e. the upper limit of affordability for 60,000 Canberra households.
Thank you for your assistance
Eight weeks later, on September 28, the deputy director-general of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, Mr Geoffrey Rutledge, in formally responding to my letter declined, without explanation, to provide any of the information or advice I had sought.
One can nevertheless assume that the two most likely explanations for refusing to respond to the request are that the information either doesn’t exist or if it does exist that the government has reasons for not wanting it to see the light of day.