The Tasmanian government should consider using extra tools to encourage faster growth in affordable housing, economist Saul Eslake says.
Those should include the planning system, as a way to encourage the private sector and the community sector to increase the rate of affordable housing supply growth, Mr Eslake said at a recent affordable housing discussion in Hobart.
”Tasmania simply doesn’t have enough social housing to meet the needs of disadvantaged citizens,” Mr Eslake said.
He said the stock of public and community housing decreased by 393 (2.9 per cent) between June 2013 and June 2017, according to Productivity Commission figures.
He said in June 2017 there were about 192 public or community dwellings per 1000 households in the lowest socio-economic fifth of the Tasmanian population, compared to a national average of 225.
“Although this is a rough calculation, it’s broadly consistent with the Grants Commission’s analysis suggesting that Tasmania spent about $30 million (or 18.5 per cent) less in 2016-17 than it would have needed in order to provide housing services at a similar standard to the average of all states and territories,” he said.
“In that context, it’s worth noting the government’s election commitment, funded in the current state budget, to provide $100 million over four years under stage two of its affordable housing strategy.”
He noted the stronger economy and said fewer Tasmanians were leaving than at any time since the mid-1980s, while arrivals from the mainland and overseas were adding proportionately more to the population than since 2008-09 and at least the early 1980s respectively.
He said Tasmanians leaving for the mainland remained dominated by 15-24-year-olds, who were likely to be leaving family homes rather than freeing up homes they had owned or rented themselves.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of arrivals were aged 25-44 and more likely to directly add to housing demand.
“ … while the demand for housing has been growing more rapidly, the supply of housing hasn’t,” Mr Eslake said.
“Dwelling completions per 1000 population have been lower in Tasmania than in any other state or territory over the past decade.
“It’s well known that housing supply … takes time to respond to an increase in demand.”
He said dwelling approvals and starts had picked up in the past 18 months, but were still not enough to make inroads into the shortage of housing relative to demand.
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