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Further land concessions a must to bring more community housing online

House and keys

Recent AHURI research has found a shortfall of at least 431,000 social housing dwellings across the nation. Canberra’s current public housing waiting list is sitting at 2,478 applications representing individuals, families, single parents and the elderly who are in need of a home fast. And there are many more who struggle to pay high market rents, often with low paid and insecure employment.

Havelock Housing’s sole objective as a community housing provider (CHP) is to make more homes available for those in need. We’re pleased to hear that the ACT Government is releasing 140 affordable housing blocks in the new suburb of Whitlam by the end of June 2020.

However, this land release must include significant land concessions for CHPs because Canberra’s very high land prices block CHPs from building more homes for those who can’t participate in the private rental market.

The current requirement is for CHPs to purchase land at full or near full market price, pay for the construction, maintain the asset for its full lifecycle, and only receive 50% to 75% of market rent ­ it’s financially impossible given that the return on investment would not cover the actual and ongoing costs.

In Taylor, the current valuation of land blocks that have been exclusively allocated for community housing still doesn’t account for the fact that the return on our properties leased to families who qualify for social rent averages about 60% of the market rent.

It doesn’t add up.

The ACT Government knows this and, for a long time, CHPs have been calling for changes, particularly with regards to land concessions, to allow us to invest in new homes.

We’re hopeful that the government will make it more affordable for CHPs to access land so we can help more Canberrans who are experiencing housing stress.