Federal spotlight turns to housing crisis

Affordable housing will be the next parliamentary priority as the federal government releases its promised plan to help ease the crisis.

After addressing election commitments to tackle climate change, childcare costs and establish a national anti-corruption commission in 2022, the government has revealed housing as being first on the agenda for 2023.

Proposed laws to establish the Housing Australia Future Fund and two independent advisory bodies have been published.

Consultation on the proposals will be open until mid-January ahead of parliamentā€™s return in February.

The $10 billion future fund is expected to provide ongoing investment returns which will go towards new social and affordable homes.

Housing Minister Julie Collins said returns from the fund would deliver the governmentā€™s commitment of 30,000 new social and affordable homes in the fundā€™s first five years.

This would include 4000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence or older women at risk of homelessness.

The fund would also commit $200 million for housing repair, maintenance and improvement in remote Indigenous communities, $100 million for crisis and transitional options and $30 million to build housing and fund specialist services for veterans at risk of homelessness.

ā€œHaving a safe and affordable place to call home is critical for Australians,ā€ Ms Collins said.

ā€œOur ambitious housing agenda will help ensure there will be a pipeline delivering new homes for Australians, and this fund will be a major component.ā€

The proposed laws include expanding the remit of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and giving it a new name, Housing Australia.

Seven members will also be appointed to the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, which will be asked to advise on the development of a new national strategy to reduce homelessness and make it easier to buy or rent a home.

Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute managing director Michael Fotheringham welcomed the Albanese governmentā€™s relatively swift action on the housing affordability crisis.

ā€œIt is their first year of government and they are aiming to get the ball rolling in early 2023 ā€“ they are not taking the housing policy issue casually,ā€ he told AAP.

While thereā€™s been a tendency for federal governments to deflect responsibility for housing affordability to the states and territories, Dr Fotheringham was heartened to see signs of a collaborative approach across different levels of government.

ā€œWeā€™re returning to a partnership approach to housing, which has been standard in the post World War II history. Itā€™s important to restore it,ā€ he said.

Ms Collins said the draft legislation was expected to be introduced into the parliament early next year.

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Maeve Bannister and Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)

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