Calls to bring 20 years of ‘housing unaffordability’ to an end

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CANBERRA property leaders are calling on the next ACT government to “urgently” address the almost 20 years of housing unaffordability in the territory.

ACT Property Council president Travis Doherty and ACT Shelters CEO Travis Gilbert have teamed up ahead of the October 17 election to ask the next government to give up its pre-occupation with highest and best land price and to revisit the rates, taxes and charges and their impact on the cost of living for Canberrans.

“A priority in this year’s ACT election must be urgent action on housing choice and affordability,” Mr Doherty says.

“We need a targeted land release program that meets the needs of our growing, ageing and diverse population. As the biggest landowner and developer in the territory, the ACT government holds the powerful lever to achieve these broader policy outcomes.

“We are calling for the next government to go further than any government has before to achieve the housing affordability continuum. No one has been able to deliver Canberrans with access to safe, affordable and diverse housing types despite attempts through the Housing Choices discussion in 2018 and the release of the Housing Strategy.

“In 2020, the problem is worse. The ACT Labor government’s obsession for maximising revenue from land sales is proving detrimental to affordability, quality and housing choice.

“The housing affordability issue is exacerbated by skyrocketing rates, land tax, and charges on lease variations. From land supply to the ongoing charges that homeowners pay over the life of their investment that are passed onto tenants through rent increases and which drive up the cost of living, the government is increasing housing unaffordability in the ACT.”

Mr Gilbert agrees with Mr Doherty, saying that the supply crisis is spreading to higher income households now in Canberra, and the inner north and south have now become severely unaffordable for households with gross incomes below $80,000.

“And on rents in the capital, we see that the National Rental Affordability Index also makes for sobering reading. It finds median asking rents are severely unaffordable for all households earning less than $50,000 a year,” Mr Gilbert says.

“And whilst Canberra number plates, say we are an ‘age-friendly city’ the truth is a widower renting privately and reliant on the age pension is left with about 80 bucks to budget for all of life’s essentials, As they decline the cuppa and cake they dare not admit is beyond their means, they might query whether the age-friendly city slogan is as empty as the affordable and social housing supply pipeline.

“We are now confronting a supply crisis, that it is not fair to expect mum and dad investors to remedy. We need more than 2500 rental units let at less than $250 a week. Last Saturday, I found three. That’s not a demand/supply gap, it’s a chasm.”

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  1. Creating debt bubbles and pushing them into the housing sector is a cornerstone of 21st century economics, artificially avoiding recession by pumping assets with credit on a mass scale continuously for the last several decades. Unfortunately the RBA has been forced to keep lowering the interest rate to keep the scam going otherwise we’d be in big trouble.

    The ACT government knows this and has been making policies to facilitate it in order to make the ACT economy look like it’s booming when it’s not. Of course there’s more winners than losers in all of this but under neoliberalism (supported by Liberal and Labor) only winners matter, losers don’t matter.

    The only short-term solution for this is for the ACT government to offer much more public housing on a mass scale and give public housing tenants a pathway to home-ownership (to their credit they are already doing this but it can be greatly expanded).

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