Tasmania’s peak housing body has raised concerns over the “chronic shortage” of affordable housing across Tasmania in the wake of a new national study.
A housing assistance report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found about 15 per cent of Tasmania’s community housing was underutilised, the second highest rate in the nation.
But the figures, released on Thursday, showed signs of improvement with the proportion of community housing underutilisation dropping 10 percentage points, down from 25 per cent, in one year.
The report said this was due to, in part, a “reduction in the number of three bedroom dwellings and an increase in the number of flats, units and apartments”.
Shelter Tasmania executive officer Pattie Chugg said there needed to be new housing stock that was affordable and appropriate for the vulnerable population.
“We know the number one cause of homelessness is lack of affordable housing so the best way to prevent and reduce homelessness is increase the supply of housing,” Ms Chugg said.
“To be really effective with housing you also need to look at the long-term outcomes.”
In Tasmania, it is currently taking an average of 43 weeks to house priority applicants.
But a government spokesperson said the rate of underutilisation often related to three-bedroom properties where children had moved out but the parent had remained in the house.
“While tenants can be encouraged to move to smaller properties, often they have been in these houses for many years and feel it is their home,” they said.
“This is particularly prevalent in community housing in Tasmania, but will be addressed over time as new applicants are better matched to properties.”
The spokesperson said a contributor to the wait times in the state was applicants wanting a specific type of housing or a low turnover of vacated properties.
It was also revealed that in the Tasmania, about 3.6 per cent of community housing was overcrowded, one of the lowest in the nation.
The report found that overall, there were about 845,000 tenants in social housing across the nation, including almost 27,000 people in Tasmania across 13,000 households.
About 80 per cent of tenants said they were happy in their tenancy.