Shelter TAS 4 Election 2018 Priorities
Housing Solutions for ALL Tasmanians
Secure, appropriate and affordable housing is a foundation for a healthy community and sound economy. Housing is a basic need – it’s hard to study, work or be part of the community without a secure home.
Increased housing costs are adding greatly to the cost of living for Tasmanians. Many people with low to moderate incomes are now paying 30 to 60% of their income on rent in the private market.i Costly housing across Tasmania is forcing many people to make impossible choices between essentials such as food and heating, or keeping their home.
Tasmania’s economy is doing well, but the benefits need to be shared. While the booming housing market is good for some, many ordinary Tasmanians are struggling to afford to rent or buy a home. Tasmania’s economic and population growth must be matched with a well-resourced housing strategy. For many Tasmanians, owning their own home will only ever be a dream.
There is no easy solution, but a committed government, working together with the community and private sectors towards a sound strategy, has the best chance of creating lasting solutions for all Tasmanians. Shelter Tasmania welcomes the housing policies announced by the major parties this election, but more is needed.
A FIRST STEP
Now is the time to work together to consider how best to address Tasmania’s housing crisis.
As a first step, Shelter Tasmania asks all parties to bring together government, community and private sector stakeholders in a Tasmanian Housing Summit this year to find ways to work together to solve the housing crisis.
Combining our shared knowledge, tools, resources and creativity will allow us to innovate and give us the best chance to find solutions that will work.
The outputs of the Summit can also inform the next version of Tasmania’s Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan, ensuring we all work towards the common goal of housing all Tasmanians.
This Election Shelter Tasmania asks for:
Clear and firm targets for increased affordable rental housing, in the form of public and community housing, to meet growing demand and reduce homelessness.
Over 3,000 households are on Tasmania’s Social Housing Register and homelessness is on the rise. We welcome the broad targets for affordable housing announced by the major parties, but it is not clear how many of these will be allocated as public and community housing (ie housing that is owned and managed by the State Government or not for profit community housing providers). Time has proven that public and community housing is housing that stays affordable in the long term. We have not invested enough in new public and community housing, this needs to improve.
Tasmania needs at least 150 new public and community housing dwellings each year to keep up with current demand.
Recognition that more and more Tasmanians are renting their home, and for longer periods of time. Shelter Tas calls for improved housing security provisions in the Residential Tenancy Act, 1997 and to make sure it provides for the needs of our young, elderly and disabled community members who are renting. Better regulation of online short term accommodation (such as Airbnb and Stayz) is also needed.
In Tasmania, 1 in 4 households rent their home, with more than 40% renting for longer than 10 years. For thousands of Tasmanians, a rental property is their home and not just a place they pass through. However, many renters worry about their lease not being renewed or being able to afford a rent rise. Young, elderly and disabled renters are particularly vulnerable. Rental properties are also scarce. In Hobart, vacancy rates are at an all-time low (0.4%), yet some 600 entire houses have been diverted for short term rental use through online platforms (such as Airbnb and Stayz).ii Renters in Tasmania deserve a better deal.
A multi-stakeholder taskforce needs to be formed to review the Residential Tenancy Act to help find ways to improve security conditions for tenants.
We also need stronger regulation of short term online accommodation to protect our long-term housing supply.
Increased accommodation options and levels of support available to young people, to help them make a positive start in life and prevent their risk of homelessness.
Being able to afford a home is important for all Tasmanians, but young people are particularly disadvantaged. Finding somewhere affordable to live is hard for many young people who rely on casual work or income support. Discrimination is common. Many young people live in housing that is overcrowded or sub-standard and others are homeless. As well as providing more affordable rental housing (see Priority 1), increasing the housing options for young people, and the support needed to help them learn how to live independently are some of the best measures we can take to avoid homelessness. Early intervention to reduce family breakup and domestic violence is also needed.
The proposals by major parties to increase housing options for young people need to be developed in consultation with the community sector to make sure they will succeed. Funds to operate facilities and services must also be guaranteed.
Tasmania’s planning system needs to play its part in meeting our housing needs by encouraging affordable housing in our cities and towns.
How we regulate development through Tasmania’s planning system affects the type and location of housing that we get. Flexible planning regulations can encourage different kinds of housing such as separate houses, flats and apartments; homes designed for living with a disability; and homes people can age in. Planning can also increase the supply of affordable housing. Coupled with the use of government-owned land, the planning system can increase the supply of affordable rental housing in the form of public and community housing. The opportunity for this to happen has been lost at Hobart’s Macquarie Point Redevelopment – this should not happen again.
Tasmania’s planning legislation lacks any clear policy on housing. It is time we followed other States’ lead and modernised our planning system to help deliver affordable housing for Tasmanians.
We also need a commitment for the release of any government land for residential development to include affordable rental housing in the form of public and community housing.
Please see Shelter Tasmania’s detailed fact sheets for further information on each of our 4 election priorities.
i SGS Economics & Planning 2017, Rental Affordability Index, May 2017. Community Sector Banking, National Shelter, SGS Economics & Planning
ii Anglicare Tasmania 2017, Rental Affordability Snapshot Tasmania