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Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation SheetsContentsInformation Sheet No 1: Why Housing Matters . 2Information Sheet No 2: The crisis in affordable housing . 4Information Sheet No 3: Which groups are most affected by the housing affordabilitycrisis? . 7Information Sheet No 4: What are the impacts of the crisis in affordable housing? . 9Information Sheet No 5: What are the factors causing unaffordable housing? . 12Information Sheet No 6: Housing policy and inequality . 14Information Sheet No 7: What can we do to improve housing affordability? . 171

Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation Sheet No 1: Why Housing MattersWhy do we need an affordable housing initiative?In NSW and the ACT we are facing a housing affordability crisis. The effects of this are feltacross the social spectrum but the most severe consequences fall on low income anddisadvantaged households.1Why is secure and affordable housing so important?Adequate housing is more than simply just shelter, though that is important. It meets manyother needs. A basic human right: The provision of secure and affordable housing is a basic humanright.2 It is essential to our wellbeing and quality of life as human beings. Without itother fundamental rights and needs- for security, safety, health, education and work,are put at risk. Home is also a crucial ingredient in our hopes for a better life, forourselves and our families. A stable base for life: Secure housing provides the stable base people need, withoutwhich it can be very difficult to find and keep a good job, send their kids to school andaddress other issues they may be facing. Secure housing is critical for children. Decent,affordable housing helps children grow in an atmosphere of material and moral securityand family stability. It provides a foundation for children to learn well through theirschool years and later, to launch into the world of work. A place to belong: To be human is to be connected to a place.3 We all need to belongsomewhere. The home is where we meet the basic needs of our daily lives - eating,sleeping and relaxing. It is also where, ideally, we feel most secure and can shareourselves with family, friends and others. A stable home allows people to buildfriendships and other relationships, and make connections in the local neighbourhoodand wider community. An important asset: The home is usually the most significant personal asset anindividual or family owns. It provides a sense of achievement, financial stability and isan asset that provides a measure of security in retirement.Safe, secure and affordable housing, is crucial to human wellbeing, healthy developmentand the capacity to thrive.ReferencesUnitingCare Children Young People and Families. Submission to the Legislative Council Social, Public andAffordable Housing Committee. UCCYPF: Sydney; 2014.2Sidoti C. Housing as a Human Right. Address to the National Conference on Homelessness, September 4-6,Melbourne, 19963Gorringe T J. A Theology of the built environment: Justice, Power, Redemption. Cambridge University Press:Cambridge; 2002.12

Questions for reflectionWhat is the home in which you have lived the longest time? What are your fondestmemories of that time?Have there been periods when you experienced insecure housing? What was that like?Which ideas on the significance of stable housing do you most relate to? What else doesstable housing provide?When you think about the lack of affordable housing, for which groups are you mostconcerned? (see story below as an example)Story from UnitingCare BurnsideI am from western Sydney. I am 21 years old and I have an 11 month old daughter. I am asingle mother trying urgently to find stable and affordable housing for myself and mydaughter.I do not have housing at the moment. My daughter was removed from my care after she wasborn because of domestic violence threats. At that time I was in private rental that I had foundmyself with my friend. FACS (The Department of Family and Community Services) said I had tomove from the coast if I wanted a chance to get my daughter back. There was no supportedaccommodation for me and my daughter. So I gave up my lease and moved to Sydney.Family friends had put their hand up and become foster carers so I could live within theirhouse and look after my daughter. I have now gone through all the hard work and haveparental responsibility for my daughter again. I am ready and able to move out, to live as afamily, myself and my daughter, and to move on with building a happy life.However without being on priority [the priority housing list for public housing] there is nochance of getting housing. I don’t want to be handed a house. Rent assistance throughCentrelink is not enough for me to be able to get private rental. I’m stuck. I support myselfand my daughter and have just so much left for rent.The family I have lived with for 9 months are selling and moving so I am desperate to findstable and secure housing. Without being on priority I am stuck. My best option now islooking for private rental with my friend who also has a small child. But she is less able to paybills than me, so I would need to take charge of that.When I have applied for housing I have always had good references about my tenancies, butestate agents don’t care. They want a family because that means no parties and someoneworking. It is discrimination. To them single mother means party animal, pension, pensionspent on drugs and alcohol, lazy . Some people are like that . But I’m not. The system isjust not fair, especially for single mums on a pension.My dream would be to have a private house, somewhere we can settle for a few years, not justfor three months or for six months, a decent house, not the best house but suitable for meand my child, close to my supports, not on a junkie street where it is not safe to raise a child.3

Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation Sheet No 2: The crisis in affordable housingIn NSW and the ACT there is a shortage of decent, secure and affordable housing. The lack ofaffordable housing impacts many people, but low income and disadvantaged households areaffected the most. More than one million people on low incomes are in housing stress, definedas having to spend more than 30% of income on housing costs.1 The housing affordabilitycrisis affects all housing types.The crisis in home ownershipRising prices means that fewer people are able to buy their own home and have to pay a muchhigher proportion of income to do so. Younger people and those on low income earners arebeing left behind. More people are facing the prospect of lifelong rental. From 2000 – 2010 house prices increased by 147% while incomes increased by only 57%.2Half (50%) of low income home owners are experiencing mortgage stress2The rate of home ownership among 25 - 44 years olds has declined 15% in the last 20years.3The crisis in the private rental marketMore people are renting than ever before, but high rents and low vacancy rates means there isa lack of suitable properties. The National Housing Supply Council estimates there is ashortage of 539,000 rental properties for low income households.4Both city and country affectedLow income renters in capital cities are most vulnerable. In 2009/10, two thirds (67%) ofcapital city renters on low incomes were in housing stress.5 Research by Anglicare Australiafound that of 12, 800 properties advertised for rent on one weekend in April 2013 acrossSydney, only five properties were affordable for single parents on the minimum wage. 6But housing stress extends across the state. Research by NATSEM found 73 Local GovernmentAreas in NSW where the percentage of households in rental stress was more than 30%.7More households with childrenThe number of households with children in rental accommodation has increased, up from 28%in 1981 to 41% of all households. The majority of these are low income households, manyforced to the outer suburbs of cities where rents are cheaper. High cost of rental means lessmoney for other essentials.8One Burnside service sent a single parent family for financial counselling to help withbudgeting. The financial counsellor reported back that there was nothing that could beachieved through budgetary counselling as the income was simply too low to meet the basicneeds of a family.94

Contributing factors to rental stressRent increases have outpaced increases in earnings and social security payments. In the lastdecade rents for houses have increased by 75.8% and for apartments by 91.8%, outpacing the57% increase in earnings over the same period.10 Record low vacancy rates increases demandand contributes to high rents. In 2013 vacancy rates were 1.4% in Newcastle, 2.4% inWollongong, and 0.8% in inner Sydney.11“I don’t know what’s next. I’m again applying for private rental. I go to the area, go to theestate agents. I go online and fill out the applications. I pay for photocopies of ID’s, bills, bankstatements, hand it in, wait for the reply, get knocked back, apply again. It’s a never endinggame.” (UnitingCare Burnside Client)9The crisis in social housingSocial housing in NSW includes both public housing (provided by government) and communityhousing (provided by the community sector). NSW has the largest amount of public housing inAustralia with over 150 000 dwellings housing around 214 000 people.12 The waiting times forpublic housing has grown and in 20% of areas is now more than ten years. 12The Auditor General’s report notes that NSW is “facing significant challenges” in providingaccess to public housing due to:12 Increasingly ageing housing that has been inadequately maintained Growing demand by single person households, low income households and those withcomplex needs Fewer people leaving public housing and longer average tenure due partly todeteriorating affordability in the private rental marketThe impact of housing affordability on homelessnessWhile homelessness has a range of causes, housing stress and a shortage of affordablehousing are significant factors in the increasing number of homeless people. On census night 2011 there were 105, 237 homeless people in Australia with 17% ofthese being under 12 years old.13NSW has the largest number of homeless persons with 28, 190 homeless persons, anincrease of 27% from the 2006 census.13Each day services across NSW had to turn away more than 117 requests for help due tothe level of demand.14The face of homelessness has changed. Once mainly experienced by older men those atgreater risk of homelessness now include: 9 15Women and children escaping domestic violence, young people leaving care or onremand, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, particularly those with intellectualdisabilities and mental illness, and asylum seekers living on bridging visas.UnitingCare services see housing as crucial in assisting people to make the most of their lives.One worker in a homelessness service observed:Housing is a basic need so if these young people, young families and young pregnant womenare without housing, it puts a stop on all other aspects of their life. Mental health, trying to geta job, trying to get into TAFE, looking after their children, maintaining a healthy relationshipall become a massive, massive challenge if you’re homeless15

References1 Australian Council of Social Service. ACOSS Budget priorities statement 2014-2015. ACOSS: Strawberry Hills; 2014.2 Australians for Affordable Housing. Australia’s Broken Housing System. Available s/2011/09/Australias Broken Housing System.pdf3 Flood J, Baker E. Australia’s changing patterns of home ownership. AHURI Research Bulletin Issue 133 December.Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute: Melbourne; 2010.4 National Housing Supply Council. Housing Supply and Affordability – Key Indicators, Australian Government:Canberra; 2012. Available at:http://www.treasury.gov.au/ tions/2012/NHSC/Downloads/PDF/housing supply affordability report.ashx5 Kelly JF, Hunter J, Harrison C, Donegan P. Renovating Housing Policy. Grattan Institute: Melbourne; 2013.6 Anglicare. Rental Affordability crisis: less than 15 of Sydney homes affordable for low income households.Available at: atest-research/2013-rental-affordability-snapshot7 Phillips B Miranti R, Vidyattama Y, Cassells R. Poverty, Social Exclusion and Disadvantage in Australia. NATSEM:Canberra; 2103.8 Hulse K. ‘The Private rental sector: Realities, challenges and possibilities’. Paper presented at Shelter NSWConference, Private Rental as a Housing Solution, Sydney 30 April 2014.9 UnitingCare Children Young People and Families. Submission to the Legislative Council Social, Public andAffordable Housing Committee. UCCYPF: Sydney; 2014.10 National Housing Supply Council. Housing Supply and Affordability Issues 2012-2013. Commonwealth ofAustralia: Canberra; 201211 Anglicare Australia. Rental Affordability Snapshot. Anglicare Australia: Canberra; 201312 Audit Office of New South Wales. New South Wales Auditor-General’s Report: Performance Audit: Making the BestUse of Public Housing. NSW Land and Housing Corporation: Sydney; 2013.13 Homelessness NSW. Some facts about homelessness. Available ut-homelessness/facts-about-homelessness#how many14 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist Homelessness Services, NSW Supplementary Tables 20112012. AIHW: Canberra; 2012.15 Wesley Mission. The Wesley Report: Homelessness and the Next Generation. Number 12. Wesley Mission: Sydney;2013.6

Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation Sheet No 3: Which groups are most affected bythe housing affordability crisis?The housing affordability crisis affects most households to some extent, but these impacts areuneven. Cities tend to be more stressed that rural areas and impacts fall more heavily on lowincome and otherwise vulnerable groups than on those who are wealthier. Some groups thatare particularly vulnerable to insecure housing and homelessness are listed below:Groups at particular risk of insecure housing and housing stress There has been an increase in low income families with dependent children renting.Households with dependent children comprised 41% of all rental households in 2011, asteep increase from 28% in 1981. The majority of these households are low-income andare pushed to the outer fringes of cities. These areas tend to have poorer transport andless job opportunities.1 Older people, especially older women living alone can be vulnerable to housing stress.UnitingCare Ageing found that 59,000 people aged over 65 years were renting in NSW.Of these 40% were living alone and 58% were in housing stress.2 A report by Anglicare found that single women over 50 living alone were most at risk ofhousing stress.3 Single parents on low incomes are at higher risk of precarious housing. Research byAnglicare in 2014 found that of 12,800 properties advertised for rent in the Sydneyregion only five were considered affordable for single parents on the minimum wage. 4Groups affected by homelessnessThe face of homelessness is also changing. While men are still in the majority overall anwomen, young people and children are increasingly affected. Groups most at risk include: Women and children escaping domestic violence. Of clients receiving help fromhomelessness agencies in 2012/13, 23 % were escaping domestic or family violence.5Lack of affordable housing options prevents some women from leaving violentrelationships and pushes others into homelessness. Young people leaving care (around 50% experience homelessness) and young people onremand (around 90% are homeless).6 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience homelessness at four times therate of non-Indigenous Australians. Homeless Aboriginal and Torrest Strait IslanderAustralians were nearly twice as likely to sleep rough, or in improvised dwellings andshelters, than non-Indigenous Australians.7 People with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities and mental illness, are athigh risk of homelessness. People with a disability make up 18% of the population butare 25% of people using specialist homelessness services.8 Asylum seekers currently living on bridging visas often cannot afford private rentalaccommodation. There are around 25,000 asylum seekers in Australia still waiting fortheir refugee status to be determined. Adult asylum seekers on a bridging visa areeligible for payments of only 90% of the Newstart Allowance (i.e. around 233 perweek).27

Story from UnitingCare BurnsideA young woman leaving careUnitingCare CYPF provides support to young people who have grown up in foster care orresidential care to help them in the transition from care to independent living.The aftercare service is currently working with a young women named “Ella” who grew up inresidential care. She is now 21 and has a one year old baby.Ella previously lived with her partner for about eight months but the relationship broke downand her ex-partner kicked Ella and the baby out. Her ex-partner does not provide any financialsupport.The aftercare worker took Ella to the Department of Housing (DOH) to apply for priorityhousing. However, DOH said that she would need to apply for 30 houses before even beingconsidered for priority housing. As a single parent with no job, Ella was constantly knockedback when she applied for houses on the private rental market.In the meantime, Ella was couch surfing with friends but having to constantly move from placeto place with the baby. Some of these places were very unsuitable environments for a baby,for example, with alcohol or drug consumption.Eventually, Ella managed to obtain a lease for a very cheap flat and moved in with the baby inJanuary. The aftercare program is providing support with furniture and food. However, whileshe uses most of her benefit on rent, she is struggling and often misses rent payments.Consequently, the aftercare worker is concerned that she will soon be evicted.The aftercare worker is trying to link Ella into the Brighter Futures program so that she can getsupport with parenting issues and access early childhood education and care (ECEC). HavingECEC for the baby would allow Ella to look for work and increase her income.References1 Hulse K. ‘The Private rental sector: Realities, challenges and possibilities’. Paper presented at Shelter NSWConference, Private Rental as a Housing Solution, Sydney, 30 April, 2014.2 UnitingCare Children Young People and Families. The Affordable Housing Crisis in NSW: program andpolicy/advocacy opportunities for the Social Justice Forum. UCCYPF: Sydney; 20143 King S, Bellamy J, McDowell C, Pope L, Evans S, Moffitt A. Home Truths: Impacts of housing insecurity on womenacross the life course. Anglicare Sydney: Sydney; 20114 Anglicare. Rental Affordability Snapshot: April 2014 Greater Sydney and Illawarra. Anglicare Sydney: Sydney; 21045 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Specialist Homelssness Services, NSW Supplementary Tables 20122013. AIHW: Canberra; 20136 NSW Government. Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, The HonJames Wood AO QC. State of NSW: Sydney; 20087 AIHW 2011. Housing and homelessness services: access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Cat. no.HOU 237. Canberra: AIHW. Available at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id 10737419006 .8 Homelessness Australia. Homelessness and Disability. Available publications/Fact Sheets/Disability.pdf 8

Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation Sheet No 4: What are the impacts of the crisis inaffordable housing?In Australia we face a housing affordability crisis. The Australian Council of Social Service(ACOSS) estimates that more than one million Australians on low incomes are experiencinghousing stress.1The housing crisis has negative impacts on individuals and families, on services and on oursociety as a whole.Impacts on individuals and familiesHousing stress and inadequate housing has many negative effects on families: 2,3 Material hardship: The high cost of housing means less money is available for otheressentials. People go without meals or must limit use of electricity to get by. Others areunable to buy necessary household items such as a fridge. The cost of frequent movingincreases financial hardship.4 Health impacts: People report being unable to afford medicines to treat illness. Housingstress can lead to anxiety or depression or cause pre-existing mental health problems toworsen. Family breakdown: Housing stress, financial hardship and overcrowding all contribute toa greater risk of family breakdown and homelessness.4 Domestic violence is a significantcause of homelessness among women and children, with 23% of all clients usinghomelessness services in 2012 escaping domestic violence.5 Impaired development: Children develop best in an atmosphere of stability, material andpersonal security, and predictable nurture. Insecure housing undermines family stabilityand connections to school and community and it compromises children’s wellbeing anddevelopment.6 Increased discrimination: Tight rental markets mean intense competition for housing,opening up the possibility of unfair discrimination by landlords. Aboriginal people,those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, single parents and peoplewho have been in prison or have been homeless, report discrimination of this kind. InNSW landlords can terminate a lease without any reason, increasing tenants’vulnerability.2Impacts on UnitingCare services and parish missionsStaff of UnitingCare NSW.ACT and Uniting Church parish missions consistently raise the lack ofadequate and affordable housing as a fundamental issue facing their clients. 2,3 Prevents work on other issues: Clients often have a range of complex needs; addiction,mental health issues, a history of abuse and neglect, domestic violence. A lack of securehousing means clients are unable to properly address their other concerns or put inplace plans to improve their lives. One service manager said, “Housing is everything”9

Impacts on family restoration: Families working to have their children restored followingchild protection concerns are often hindered by a lack of stable accommodation. Theymay have done all that is required but appropriate housing is a key criteria for childrento be returned to their care. Increases demand for material aid: The high cost of housing means less money forother essentials. Services report increased need to provide families with material aid andfood vouchers as they struggle to live on their remaining income. More people in precarious housing: Services report more clients re-enteringhomelessness and precarious accommodation because they cannot afford decenthousing. They told of clients sleeping in tents, in garages, on couches or in cars.“It is common to have mums who are doing all the Department of Family and CommunityServices requires of them, and all the NEWPIN program requires of them, but the restorationof their child is held back because of their lack of suitable housing. It doesn’t matter whetherthey need to move on from supported accommodation, or from staying with friends, or from acrowded extended family house, or from a caravan. There is just not enough housing at theprice they can afford”2Caseworker, Burnside Newpin programWider economic and social impacts of the housing crisis Unfair tax incentives drive up prices but do not help housing supplyFavourable tax treatment encourages speculative investment in housing and helps drive uphouse prices for all. It is estimated that tax exemptions for negative gearing and capitalgains tax are worth 6.8 billion a year.7 The vast majority of this benefit flows to wealthierhouseholds. Around 94% of negatively geared investment is for established, not newdwellings, so there is little increase to overall housing supply.8 Inadequate housing generates social and economic costsThere is evidence that poor housing contributes to ill health and educationalunderachievement.9 Substandard and overcrowded housing, where families lack anyprivacy, are associated with higher rates of child neglect and juvenile crime. 10Improving housing has social benefits. A UK report found that improving the quality andsize of housing and the quality of neighbourhood environments had a positive effect inreducing criminality and ill-health and in improving educational performance.9 An analysisof research into home improvements found some evidence of benefits to general health,respiratory health and mental health.11 For example, studies showed that houses that hadenough room for householders and were able to be heated, led to improvements inrespiratory health, promoted better social relationships among householders and reducedabsences from school and work. Current policies risk increasing and entrenching social inequalitiesCurrent government policy on housing deepens the equality divide between house ownersand investors on one hand and renters on the other.2,12 Home owners and investors benefitenormously from tax concessions, paid for by public funds. For both groups the benefitsare greatest for high income households. Those unable to afford housing don’t receivethose financial benefits.10

High house prices create significant obstacles for younger people who don’t have parentalfinancial support and for lower and single income earners. Their chances of homeownership are diminishing.Decent, affordable housing is essential for personal and community wellbeing and qualityof life. We need to adopt policies and practices that make such housing more readilyavailable, particularly for the most disadvantaged.“I am a single mum with two young children and I got a house through NSW Housing on theCentral Coast in December 2012. The home is in a social housing estate. In May 2013 Iapproached NSW Housing to ask them to repair gaps between the floor boards and the wall asour home is extremely cold in the winter. We use a heater but because the house is notinsulated well there are so many gaps, the heat escapes quickly and I can’t afford to keep theheater going on a continual basis because of the high cost of electricity. My two youngchildren complain about being cold during the night and I’ve had to spend a significantamount of money on blankets and doonas to keep them warm, but they still sometimescomplain of being cold.” 2Parent, BurnsideReferences1 Australian Council of Social Service. ACOSS Budget priorities statement 2014-2015. ACOSS: Strawberry Hills; 20142 UnitingCare Children Young People and Families. Submission to the Legislative Council Social, Public andAffordable Housing Committee. UCCYPF: Sydney; 20143 UnitingCare Children Young People and Families. The Affordable Housing Crisis in NSW: program andpolicy/advocacy opportunities for the Social Justice Forum. UCCYPF: Sydney; 20144 Shelter NSW, What housing issues contribute to homelessness? Shelter Brief 44. Shelter NSW: Sydney; 20105 Shelter NSW. NSW Housing Factsheet: A quick guide to housing facts and figures. Shelter NSW: Sydney; 20136 Sidoti C. ‘Housing as a Human Right’. Address to the National Conference on Homelessness, September 4-6,Melbourne, 1996.7 Kelly JF, Hunter J, Harrison C, Donegan P. Renovating Housing Policy. Grattan Institute: Melbourne; 20138 Gittins R. Home truths: high prices here to stay. Sydney Morning Herald. November 26, 2014. Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/action/printAricle?id 635080719 Friedman D. Social impact of poor housing. Ecotec; London; 201010 Weatherburn D, Lind B. Social and Economic Stress, Child Neglect and Juvenile Delinquency. NSW Bureau of CrimeStatistics and Research: Sydney; 1997.11 Thomson H, Thomas S, Sellstrom E, Petticrew M. Housing improvements for health and associated socioeconomic outcomes (Review). The Cochrane Library: Issue 3; 201312 Kelly JF, Hunter J, Harrison C, Donegan P. Renovating Housing Policy. Grattan Institute: Melbourne; 2013.11

Affordable Housing InitiativeUniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACTInformation Sheet No 5: What are the factors causingunaffordable housing?According to the International Monetary Fund, Australia has the third highest house pricesamong the world’s wealthiest nations.1 House prices are affected by both supply and demandand this sheet outlines some of the factors that have influenced both sides in recent years.Demand side factors Population growth and household size: the rate at which new homes are built inAustralia has not kept pace with the population increase. In 2011 it was estimated thatAustralia had 284, 000 fewer homes than were needed.1 As well as population growthincreasing demand, since the 1990’s households have grown smaller meaning we needto provide more housing overall. Preference for cities: Australia has a lot of space but most of us live in a few large cities,where house prices are higher. Nearly 60% of Australians live in cities of more than onemillion people.1 While our cities are large in terms of area, poor transport and amenitiesin outer suburbs mean most people want to live closer in, where there are more jobopportunities and services. Increase

Social housing in NSW includes both public housing (provided by government) and community housing (provided by the community sector). NSW has the largest amount of public housing in Australia with over 150 000 dwellings housing around 214 000 people.12 The waiting times for public housing ha