The massive social and opportunity cost of housing stress in Australia must be addressed by all levels of government in the wake of the COVID crisis. Housing stress undermines social cohesion. It is one of the root causes of drug abuse, crime, homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence and a diminishing quality of life.
Improving regional infrastructure and services and building decent social housing must take precedent over pumping more and more people into an already congested, overheated and stressed coastal housing market.
“Australia is perhaps the least densely populated major country in the world yet a large number of urban and coastal regional areas are experiencing a housing crisis where many people are now living without homes,” said Dr Wessell.
With more than 80% of their population in secure and affordable rental accommodation, civilised European countries like Germany and Austria clearly benefited both economically and socially from a more enlightened and well balanced housing policy.
"Affordable housing" in Australia is a sad mockery. Last month, one-bedroom barely affordable housing units in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, were placed on the market. The asking price for each unit was $420 a week. For someone to pay this amount without rental stress they would have to earn $72,800 a year. Such is the nature of ‘affordable housing’ in the Byron Shire.
A housing snapshot released by Anglicare last week shows that there was not even one genuinely affordable rental property advertised anywhere in the Shire for people on basic incomes. A few days later, a study by the University of NSW revealed that the Richmond electorate (covering the Ballina, Byron, and Tweed shires) had the second-highest rate of rental stress of any electorate in the country.
Research from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW demonstrates the stark consequences of this immoral and broken system. It shows that there is a current shortfall of 3,500 affordable housing units in the Northern Rivers, which is expected to increase to 5000 in the next 10 years. Recently there were just 38 rental properties available across the entire area. Not one was affordable for families or singles on benefits.
In comparison to the 38 homes available for long-term rental across Ballina, Byron, and Tweed Heads, there were 4,660 homes advertised for rent through Airbnb. The vast majority of those Airbnb homes were whole houses that stood completely empty 84 per cent of the time.
A recent nationwide analysis showed the median Byron house price was more than $987,000, putting it ahead of already overpriced Sydney, at $950,000, while Melbourne ranks sixth at about $772,000.
COVID has exposed the flaws in the neoliberal ideology. The aged-care sector demonstrates how the profit motive and relying on vulnerable causalised, hard working and low-paid labour generated immense suffering, pain and death. We need to reset the economy by rejecting any model that says society must serve the economy and instead require the economy to serve the people.
To ensure truly secure and affordable housing across the board, state and federal governments need to provide around 20% of the total housing stock in Australia. This would also prevent runaway and excessive price increases and stabilise the housing market for everyone.
HOUSING - A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT
There are record numbers of homeless
right across NSW,
yet in Sydney
Lisa has 156 Airbnb listings,
Keris 137 listings, Vincent 124...
"Australia is the most penetrated market
in the world." (Airbnb's Sam McDonagh)
Residential Housing is for the housing of Residents.
Neighbours, Not a Stream of Strangers.
A NSW Parliamentary Hearing Committee
that despite having purchased or rented
a home or apartment,
we should all now live in
quasi-Hotels and Transit Zones.
Endless drunken parties, higher levies, taxes,
security risks etc.
And Tenants and First Home Buyers
for a foothold in the housing market
and a place to call home.