Tasmania’s peak affordable housing body has expressed concern over silence surrounding the National Housing and Homeless Agreement as the state grapples with a housing crisis.
The state and federal governments have been in negotiations over a new agreement with the current five-year contract due to expire at the end of June.
Shelter Tas executive officer Pattie Chugg said the NHHA was a major source of funding for Tasmania’s social housing system and aid for homelessness.
“As we face an unprecedented housing crisis in Tasmania, it is unacceptable that we have no certainty about funding beyond the existing agreements which will expire in just nine weeks,” she said.
“We have next to no information about when the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) will come into effect, or what it will contain.
“So once again we are left wondering – what commitment can be made to the thousands of vulnerable Tasmanians relying on the services funded by these agreements?”
“At a time when Tasmania is facing a desperate shortage of housing, the last thing we need is uncertainty about the funding that keeps the system operating.”
A report from parliamentary inquiry on the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement recommended the federal government take “urgent steps” to address evidence that it had no comprehensive strategy on intergenerational housing inequality, housing affordability, and unfair residential property investment tax breaks which favoured high income earners.
It said the next agreement needed appropriate benchmarks and transparency on the expenditure of Commonwealth housing and homelessness assistance payments.
TasCOSS made submissions to the inquiry which said an independent body needed to be established to monitor and assess performance.
It expressed concerns that the state was pinged with financial penalties for not meeting targets set out under the agreement and supplementary agreements.
The organisation said with the current agreement to expire on June 30, there might not be enough time for negotiations to be appropriately resolved.
Right To Information documents published by the Human Services Department last week showed there were 3393 applicants awaiting public housing with 2331 of these applicants classed as a priority.
It said occupancy rates for public housing remained high at 99.2 per cent at the end of February.
Just four properties were vacant for more than six months.