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Success of social housing measures will rely on clever implementation

Date published: Tuesday 9 May 2017

Category(ies): Media release

The peak body for Baptist community service organisations, Baptist Care Australia, says the practicalities of implementation will be the key to the success of Budget social housing measures.

“In such a complex policy area, Australians on the lowest incomes will be relying on the government to implement Budget measures wisely and with broad consultation,” said Marcia Balzer, Executive Director of Baptist Care Australia.

“We welcome $1 billion allocation for a housing bond aggregator scheme to help make social housing simpler and more affordable to build.

“It will be very important for the government to consult with the not-for-profit sector as well as the finance sector in developing the bond aggregator model.

“There also needs to be close coordination with states and territories as well as social housing providers. Nothing wastes government money quicker than each jurisdiction making decisions in isolation.

“There’s no doubt that we need a truly national and cooperative approach to this entrenched and steadily worsening problem.

“We urge all governments to work closely together to ensure the best value for each investment is achieved. Those in need of stable and secure housing deserve no less.

“Whatever shape the bond aggregator scheme takes, we must ensure that those with the lowest incomes aren’t forgotten.

“Trying to rebuild your life after domestic violence, unemployment, inter-generational disadvantage, mental illness or drug addiction, can be next to impossible without a safe place to live.

“We know that having a stable and safe place to live is the best help we can give to people getting back on their feet after a setback. Social housing is an investment in more productive, healthy and independent people, not an expense.

“Social housing is our essential safety net, and the holes in that safety net have been getting bigger with each passing year. It’s well past time that we started to repair them.

“It’s refreshing to see the Turnbull government taking the issue seriously after many years of neglect by governments at all levels, but an important part of the puzzle is still missing.

“One of the best ways to make a long term impact on housing affordability for people on the lowest incomes would be to increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance. It’s a shame the government missed this opportunity in the 2017 Budget,” Ms Balzer said.

Baptist Care Australia supports the ACOSS and National Shelter policy Housing Australia’s people: a serious plan.

The Baptist Care Australia network provides social and affordable housing for more than 500 households as well as crisis accommodation for domestic violence victims, refugees and disadvantaged young people. Along with a safe place to live, support services are provided to help residents rebuild their lives, connect with their communities, and live independently while they age or live with disability.

ENDS

Contact: Marcia Balzer, Executive Director, Baptist Care Australia, marcia.balzer@baptistcareaustralia.org.au, 0430 175 310