Australia`s housing and homelessness policy is at a critical point. Housing stress has reached historic highs, there is a severe shortage of social housing and an increasing number of low-income households are being squeezed out of the private rental market. In this context, the federal government is developing a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) that will replace existing national agreements that provide national and regional governments with funding for housing and homelessness programs. The agreement recognizes that the Commonwealth and states have a common interest in improving housing outcomes across the housing spectrum, including outcomes for homeless or threatened homeless people, and that they must cooperate to achieve these results. It also recognizes that there are a number of factors that have an impact beyond the agreement, including taxation and the state, financial sector regulation, immigration, income support and rent subsidies. Starting in 2018/19, the Commonwealth is expected to make available to state and state governments (exclusive GST), with the Commonwealth`s financial contribution maintained and indexed annually from 2019 to 20 20. The agreement expires on June 30, 2023 and is replaced by the written agreement of the Commonwealth and States for an additional period of up to five years. The overall objective of the NHHA is to improve housing opportunities for low-income people and to fund services for the homeless. It is a multilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, which is supported by separate bilateral agreements with each jurisdiction.
Among its commitments, the Commonwealth is committed to making a financial contribution to the states; Monitoring and evaluation of performance to ensure results are delivered within agreed timeframes; And to highlight the development of improved data and a nationally consistent data set containing state contributions through a working group on housing and homelessness data. The bill also does not guarantee the adequacy and security of funding, and there is a risk that funding will cease if the tight deadline for negotiating agreements with state and territory governments is not met. Australia`s social housing system is in crisis and greater investment is essential. Nevertheless, the agreement does not reflect the real cost of maintaining and functioning social housing, much less promoting the growth of social housing. This funding gap is compounded by the extension of the scope of the agreement, which provides additional targets for affordable housing without new means. Homelessness strategies need to address NHHA`s priority cohorts and outline reforms or initiatives to reduce the incidence of homelessness. Among the priority cohorts: the introduction of the UNION bill to the Senate Economic Affairs Committee called for greater accountability in the use of Commonwealth funds as part of the agreement and an observable improvement in the supply of social and affordable housing. The bill introduces a trigger for the retention of financial resources for national and territorial governments if they do not meet criteria defined in bulk. While we advocate greater transparency and accountability, this punitive approach undermines a collaborative approach between jurisdictions and risks creating ongoing funding instability and political friction.