Housing and rental stress in the spotlight at commission hearings

The People’s Commission into the Housing Crisis has seen almost eight in 10 renters are in housing stress, with almost half of respondents skipping medical appointments and meals to afford a home.

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Last week saw the first round of in-person hearings for the People’s Commission into the Housing Crisis, a research initiative undertaken by Everybody’s Home.

Initial responses from 1,500 Australian home owners and renters found that 58 per cent of respondents, and 76 per cent of renters, are experiencing housing stress.

To manage housing costs, over half of respondents reduce energy costs by avoiding heating and cooling their homes. Meanwhile, 45 per cent of respondents avoid essential doctor appointments to cut costs, while one in three skip meals.

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize described the current housing crisis as “one of the greatest problems of our time”.


“Instead of being our invisible foundation and our sanctuary, housing has become a huge cause of stress and anxiety for too many people and a driver of inequality across the country,” she said.

Present at the hearing was the Honourable Doug Cameron, a former parliamentary secretary for housing and homelessness under the Rudd government.

He criticised “decades of failed policy” for creating a landscape where “affordable, secure and fit-for-purpose rentals are almost non-existent for low-income Australians and those who rely on social security payments to survive”.

“The housing system is dividing Australia into those who have access to home ownership and those who never will,” Cameron said.

In particular, Cameron critiqued non-productive investment strategies that “treat housing as just another commodity” and as “a vehicle for wealth accumulation instead of a fundamental driver of social cohesion”.

He called for the acceleration of “affordable, well-designed and environmentally sustainable build-to-rent, low-cost housing” through investment from industry superfunds and “direct commissioning of prefabricated manufactured housing”.

He also recommended changing current negative gearing settings to incentivise productive investment in new-build dwellings.

“Intelligent, progressive and necessary change should not be used as a political battering ram,” he said.

“Linking housing shortages and unaffordability to lower immigration, as if this was the magic bullet that would unlock supply and affordability, is yet another example of the immaturity of the housing debate within Australia,” said Cameron. “We need better than scare campaigns with racial undertones if we are to resolve the massive social costs related to affordable housing.”

He urged for more government investment in social housing, noting that without it, “people will still go hungry, older women will still be sleeping in cars, young people will still be couch surfing – and that is not what a good Australian society looks like”.

“We are a rich country. We should spend those riches making sure that everyone has a fair go,” Cameron concluded.

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