ACT social housing wait list could double

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ALMOST 2000 Canberrans are on a wait list for social housing in the ACT, but these numbers could double, according to research released by Compass Housing Services. 

The research in the discussion paper “Estimating Current and Future Demand for Social Housing Assistance” suggests that the number of households eligible for social housing in the ACT could be 100 per cent higher than what the waiting lists suggest.

Martin Kennedy, the paper’s author, says the results are deeply concerning and a stark warning to governments already dealing with a significant backlog of applications.

Martin Kennedy

Mr Kennedy says there are currently more than 1750 households on the waiting list for social housing in the ACT. This is equivalent to 15 per cent of the total number of social housing dwellings.

“Income and asset data from the last census suggests that there are an additional 2050 households eligible for social housing who have, as yet, chosen not to apply,” Mr Kennedy says.

“If every household in the ACT who met the eligibility criteria for social housing decided to apply, waiting lists would more than double, increasing by 116 per cent.

“The number of households eligible for social housing but not currently living in it, is equivalent to approximately eight per cent of all renting households in the ACT.”

Mr Kennedy says the shortfall could potentially become even worse as a wave of automation and artificial intelligence use washes through the economy.

“This has the potential to add to social housing demand by displacing some workers and eroding the incomes of others,” he says.

He says these kinds of structural changes to the economy can leave affected workers struggling to re-enter the workforce. As many as 20 per cent could remain out of work three years later. Those that do re-enter the workforce generally experience declines in wages of between 10 to 20 percent.

Depending on the proportion of the low to moderate income workforce that is ultimately impacted by automation, the new research estimates there are currently between 249 and 517 low income households in the ACT not currently eligible for social housing that would become so if they experienced a 10 per cent decline in household income.

If impacted households experienced a decline in household income equivalent to 20 per cent of current household income, the number of households who would become eligible for social housing could increase to anywhere between 368 and 764.

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