Parliament has given the green light to the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), a crucial step towards addressing the country’s housing crisis with new social and affordable homes on the horizon.
- The HAFF envisions constructing 30,000 new buildings over the next five years. However, the exact start date for the construction still needs to be confirmed.
- Housing Minister Julie Collins has expressed the government’s urgency in operationalizing the fund. She indicated a hopeful timeline of weeks, or at the most, a couple of months, before the fund becomes active.
- The ultimate goal is to funnel the returns from this fund towards increasing the availability of social and affordable homes.
What they’re saying:
- Housing experts and associations across the country have praised the legislation’s approval. Many hailed it as a significant step after a decade without notable federal housing programs.
- You can’t understate the importance of this move; even though it might only cover some needs, it’s an addition of 30,000 homes in housing poor Australia that weren’t previously on the table.
- To gain crossbench support, the government introduced several amendments to the HAFF. These include an annual spending guarantee of at least $500 million and a promise to construct a minimum of 1,200 homes in every state and territory over the stipulated five-year period.
- Outside of HAFF, the government has pledged $2 billion via the Social Housing Accelerator, intending to fund thousands of homes. This funding is already in the hands of states and territories, earmarked for commitment by June 2025.
- Another $1 billion has been promised by the government for additional housing construction. Still, details about its expenditure and projected home count remain undisclosed.
Timeline for construction: The government has yet to commit to exact construction dates due to factors beyond its direct control, such as regional government regulations and land availability.
Challenges ahead: While the construction industry believes they can handle the imminent surge in demand, future concerns loom large. The sector can cope in the immediate future, but many project a potential workforce shortage from 2025 onwards, stressing the importance of forward planning and training.
The broader context: Despite the significant step forward, many believe there’s still work to be done in the housing sector. There is a need for comprehensive strategies, pointing out concerns like zoning reforms, the growing homelessness rates, and the need for rent caps and protection against evictions to improve housing affordability.