A new report has shed light on the growing importance of social housing.
The report, A pathway to where? Inquiry into understanding and reimagining social housing pathways’, undertaken for AHURI by researchers from UNSW Sydney, University of Tasmania, Swinburne University of Technology, University of South Australia and University of Adelaide examines the social housing pathways of tenants across Australia.
It comes as the academics look to better understand vulnerable tenants, and growing numbers of homelessness in the Australian marketplace.
According to the research, long-term social housing offers best chance for tenants who experience adversity, including but not limited to, a disability, poor health or complex needs and are reliant on income support.
“The data shows that the vast majority of people moving into social housing are eligible because they are in ‘greatest need’, that is they are homeless or at risk of homelessness, or at risk due to health conditions, disability, caring responsibilities, or being Indigenous, under 25 years or over 75 years old,” said lead researcher Professor Kristy Muir of UNSW Sydney.
“For these tenants social housing is not a stepping stone to being able to afford private rental housing, but is a legitimate destination, one that offers the best chance of stable, secure and affordable housing. In fact, we found that even where tenants wanted to move on from social housing, they did not see it as a genuine option because there were no affordable, stable alternatives in the private rental market.”
The research also looked into greater policy reform that would help combat the issue.
“While governments across Australia have introduced policies to encourage tenants to see social housing as a time limited housing option, providing policies to support low income tenants in private rental housing are also very important. Such policies can include:
“While government policy levers to help people move out of social housing include the sale of dwellings to tenants, provision of private rental subsidies, rental transition programs, financial planning and client-based needs planning, the biggest factor by far that affect moves out of social housing is the availability, or lack thereof, of affordable housing alternatives,” Professor Muir concluded.