Five years ago in the lead up to the election that swept him to power Kevin Rudd called a housing summit. He promised to make affordable housing a top priority and in office set a series of targets for the Council of Australian Governments.
Today in a damning assessment of progress the COAG Reform Council will report it finds “no indication” overall affordability has improved.
The annual assessment finds rental affordability has worsened, especially for those on the lowest incomes.
Households are said to be in rental stress when rent takes up more than 30 per cent of their gross income. The report says Labor took office with 49 per cent of Australia's poorest households in rental stress. By 2009-10, the most recent year for which figures were available, 61 per cent of those households were in rental stress.
In NSW and Victoria more than two-thirds of very low income households were in rental stress - the worst results in the nation. In the ACT only 38 per cent faced rental stress.
“We are talking about the Australians who can least afford the extra financial burden,” said Council chairman Paul McClintock ahead of the release of today’s report.
“The more money these households have to spend on rent, the less they have for other basic necessities.”
In every state and every capital buying a home became less affordable for low income Australians between 2009-10 and 2010-11... Mortgage rates climbed, low income levels were little-changed and house prices stayed fairly steady. Perth is the least-affordable city for low-income Australians, Canberra the most affordable. (The Council's figures fail to take account of the very recent falls in house prices and interest rates.)
“The Commonwealth, state and territory governments all committed to make housing more affordable,” Mr McClintock said. “None of the indicators we are able to report show any progress toward achieving this objective.”
Mission Australia executive Eleri Morgan-Thomas described the findings as “eye-opening”.
“Measured against the aims of the affordable housing agreement - for example, that people are able to rent housing that meets their needs - this report clearly shows there has been no progress, and in some cases we’ve gone backwards,” she said.
“What is eye-opening is the enormity of the rental affordability problem when captured in black and white, particularly in our major capital cities. To have people who can least afford it experience a 12 per cent increase in housing stress is extremely alarming.”
In today's Age
. Why Labor's housing summit will fail
. Why Labor's Housing Summit left me optimistic
. Our houses are emptying, as are our dreams of owning them outright