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Housing & Homelessness

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The Youth Coalition asked parties and independent candidates about their policies on housing and homelessness. We asked:
- How will you address youth homelessness in the ACT?
- How will you improve housing affordability for young people?

The full responses we received from parties and independent candidates are below. 
Click here to download the short snapshot of their policies on housing and homelessness.

ACT Greens

For a wealthy city like ours, there are too many people falling through the cracks. Too many requests for basic shelter and vital support are left unmet – and service providers are overstretched and underfunded.
More than a quarter of our homeless population are children under the age of 18, and seventy percent of young people who end up homeless are fleeing domestic violence or family breakdown. The problem is big and causes are complex. That’s why youth homelessness is something we’ve been committed to tackling for years.
In the ACT, it was the Greens who instigated Street Law, a free legal service for homeless or people at risk of experiencing homelessness. We’ve secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funding for housing and homelessness policy and advocacy work in our current Parliamentary Agreement. And we've championed innovative models for social housing and supported accommodation, making support for the landmark Common Ground housing project one of our key conditions for forming government.
The Greens will continue to make homelessness, including youth homelessness, a priority in the next parliament. We know how important it is to help our most vulnerable find shelter and a pathway home – and we believe that homelessness has no place in our city.

ACT Labor

The ACT Labor Government is delivering the biggest ever public housing renewal program for the ACT. The public housing renewal program is replacing 1288 old dwellings over the next four years. We’re building new and modern accommodation for tenants in locations close to town centres, shopping precincts and along bus routes. We are also providing more support for early intervention, prevention and outreach services to help young people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Common Ground is a program that was developed specifically to address homelessness in the ACT. It creates a community in which who have previously been homeless can access long term accommodation.

My government is working with Housing ACT and the community to make sure that renters in Canberra can get the level of support they need. We are increasing affordable rental housing and we are targeting assistance to held households with lower incomes.

We are also making it easier and cheaper to buy a house in the ACT. Buying a house is already expensive but stamp duty can make it even harder, especially for young people. This Labor Government has cut stamp duty by a third, and we are abolishing it altogether over a 20-year period. Our First Home Owner grant is also helping Canberrans purchase their first property. 

Canberra Liberals

The Canberra Liberals recognise housing affordability for young people in Canberra is a huge issue; whether it’s young people in the rental market or young people trying to get onto the property ladder.

Increased fees and charges like the Lease Variation Charge (LVC) are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of new units. The Canberra Liberals have committed to removing this charge in Civic and the town centres for four years. This would stimulate growth, make units and apartments more affordable and encourage high density growth where it should occur, instead of in outer suburbs where there should be more land for single dwelling properties.

Furthermore, significant increases in rates are making home ownership in Canberra unaffordable for everyone; let alone young people trying to enter the market. High rates also contribute to higher rents making all options unaffordable for all Canberrans. We will stop these unfair rates increases by creating a fairer balance between rates and stamp duty.

It’s a tragedy when you hear about young people leaving town because they can’t afford the rising cost of living.

The First Point Report for June 2016 shows that as at the end of June 2016, there were 666 people waiting for homelessness accommodation in the ACT. This is just not good enough. The Canberra Liberals believe that all Canberrans deserve better. Our housing policy is a practical, affordable and effective way to address Canberra’s long public housing waiting lists and affordable housing crisis. We will implement a range of policies aimed at helping people along the housing continuum and freeing up public housing for those most in need. More information about our plan to address homelessness in the ACT, including youth homelessness, will be released in the coming months. 

Independent Candidates

Joel McKay, Independent Candidate for Brindabella

The next ACT Government must prioritise the issues of homelessness and housing affordability. As property prices continue to soar and rates increasing well above CPI, it is becoming more and more difficult for young people to afford a house. Due to a decline in wages growth and the cost of living constantly increasing, even renting a house is becoming a difficult proposition. The amount of young people seeking public housing accommodation is growing rapidly. If steps are not taken to alleviate this issue, many more young people will face homelessness in our city.

I believe one option to increase the number of public housing is to implement a Defence Housing Australia (DHA) style solution. For those not familiar with DHA, the company acquires land and builds properties in order to provide accommodation for Defence families, with the properties offered to private investors through a sale and leaseback agreement.

The Government could identify suitable blocks of land (before its developed), contract directly with builders, and provide house and land packages to private investors through a sale and lease agreement. A public housing tenant would provide 25% of their income toward rent with the ACT Government making up the difference. To attract private investors, the ACT Government could guarantee the rent, provide long term leases, and manage the property, which is similar to the services DHA provide for their clients. (more information can be found here http://www.vote1joelmckay.com/#!public-housing/gt5pz)

To ease housing affordability for first homebuyers, the Government should simply remove stamp duty for purchases under $600,000. In addition, the Government could also allow the First Home Owners Grant to apply to both new and established properties under $600,000. The ACT Government needs to assist people struggling with housing affordability, instead of double dipping into their pockets through stamp duty and increased rates.

Leigh Watson, Independent Candidate for Ginninderra

There is a direct link between housing affordability and homelessness in the ACT for all cohorts, including youth – so it goes without saying that any response to solve homelessness needs to consider these two issues together. But while housing affordability is complex - and many of the levers in federal government hands - this does not prevent the ACT Government from implementing a range of responses to increase the supply of affordable housing. So, I would immediately implement a range of affordable housing-first responses to increase the supply of affordable housing for young people who need it.  This would include thorough consultation and co-design with the youth cohort (including sub groups) in order to fully understand the need and to achieve the most appropriate and effective responses to meet a diverse range of needs.

These affordable housing responses would include: 1. Community housing to supply lower rental rates and bypass the stigma young people experience when renting privately (including cooperative housing models to encourage self-management); 2. Home ownership through shared equity programs; 3. Compact apartments for both sale and rent in “funky” designs (such as lofts) close to facilities important to youth (including the inner city or along transport routes); 4. Boarding houses and hostels especially for youth managed by reputable community housing organisations according to the ACT Residential Tenancy Act; 5. Expansion of services provided to young people around housing including tenancy and other legal advice such as Welfare Rights and Street Law;  6. Increase the amount and type of emergency housing (such as refuges) along gender lines; 7. Mandatory provision of social housing for all wards of the state 16 years and over; 8. Strengthen the rights of tenants and occupants through revision of existing ACT tenancy legislation; 9. Youth web portal with clear and interactive information on all the above.

For more information visit voteforleigh.org


The above information was provided by the parties and/or candidates listed, and authorised for publication on this website by Emma Robertson, Youth Coalition of the ACT