The St Vincent de Paul Society has backed the Productivity Commission’s call for urgent reform of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, which governs Commonwealth funding to the states for housing services.
In a damning review released on Friday, the Productivity Commission found that the NHHA had failed in its mission to improve access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing and to foster collaboration between the Commonwealth and states and territories.
Over the life of the NHHA, housing affordability had deteriorated significantly, particularly in the private rental market, leading to a spike in demand for homelessness services and social housing.
The commission recommended that Commonwealth Rent Assistance be overhauled to improve its adequacy and targeting; and concessions and grants for first homebuyers be redirected to struggling homelessness services, some of which are in permanent crisis.
St Vincent de Paul Society national president Claire Victory said the charity supported the Productivity Commission’s calls for urgent reform.
“The society is witnessing a sharp increase in demand for support from people struggling to pay skyrocketing rents or unable to access affordable housing,” Ms Victory said.
“A safe home is a fundamental human right, vital to human dignity. It is shameful that in 2022, the Australian dream has become a nightmare, with a whole generation unable to afford a home and a growing number of Australians at risk of becoming homeless as wages and income supports fail to keep up with surging costs of living.
“We recognise the new Albanese Government’s commitment to introduce a National Housing and Homelessness Strategy and to establish a national Housing Supply and Affordability Council. But urgent action is needed now to help the growing number of Australians who are homeless or at risk of falling into homelessness.”
Productivity Commission report into National Housing and Homeless Agreement (St Vincent de Paul Society)