The quagmire Tasmania's public housing landscape has fallen into is so deep that any level of state-based election promise will not be able to completely resolve the problems at hand.
That is according to University of Tasmania Housing and Community Research Unit director Professor Keith Jacobs and research fellow Dr Kathleen Flanagan.
Even Labor's pledge to build 3500 new public housing dwellings over six years fell short of the mark, according to Professor Jacobs.
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I see this issue as much more systemic. I don't really expect anything to actually come from these pronouncements.Professor Keith Jacobs
Professor Jacobs conceded the Greens' announcement to introduce rent controls, ban no-cause evictions and change laws around pet ownership, along with a commitment to build 8357 additional new homes was the closest to meeting the mark.
"The greens are probably the nearest to where I would like policy to be," he said.
Dr Flanagan said any housing policy announcement relying on funds coming from the state alone would not meet the need of the demand in Tasmania.
"The underlying problem with our social housing system is the scale of the need has built up over the last few decades. A few 1000 houses here and there aren't going to resolve the problem," she said.
This is because the situation in Tasmania, and much of the rest of Australia, has been driven to the point where the only way out of the housing hole is through a contribution and subsidy by the federal government.
Professor Jacobs and Dr Flanagan have long seen a dual contribution as being the only way to provide adequate social and community housing.
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How did we get here?
The housing problem in Tasmania is not new.
Casual observers often place the blame on the last Labor/Greens government for "selling off all the houses", but Dr Flanagan said this was not the case.
She said that government oversaw stock transfers to community housing providers, an option that was seen around that time as being a positive move forward, and one that other states took.
"They transferred a big chunk of the stock to management through the community housing sector. The state then retains ownership of those properties, but they will be managed through the community housing sector," she said.
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"There was also a small number of houses where they did transfer ownership.
"The aim of that was if community housing providers owned the properties, they could leverage more debt off them, use them as collateral, and then build more houses."
Dr Flanagan said this was a popular tactic because independent community housing operators typically result in the tenant having a better experience for a number of reasons including the fact the organisations tend to invest more into the property.
Professor Jacobs said another large reason the Tasmanian housing situation had reached the point it was at was because the state Liberal government had taken their cues from interest groups who stand to gain the most from a housing shortage.
"The real estate industries, the property council and the housing industry association - they are lobbyists," he said.
"In practice, they generally oppose any sensible intervention. And it's not surprising, of course, because without a shortage, those members wouldn't make any money."
Based on his research, Professor Jacobs said, in a perfect world, housing would not be part of an economic wind-fall. But while policy was geared that way, the situation was unlikely to resolve.
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Where to now?
Both Professor Jacobs and Dr Flanagan were adamant the only way Tasmania could claw back to level pegging and meet the public housing need was through sustained investment from the federal government.
Professor Jacobs was skeptical it would be forthcoming.
"Everyone talks about it as the problem which the government should resolve. So there is this naive assumption that governments were generally wellbeing entities who were trying to do their best to people who are disadvantaged," he said.
"There's a big divide in Australia between renters and owners, and most of the policy in Australia initiated by the government rewards the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
When people say they want to resolve the housing crisis, they don't actually mean that.Professor Keith Jacobs
The federal government had been stoic in their statements about the housing debt wiped for Tasmania in 2019 being a significant contribution, but calls remain for further intervention.
From the perspective of Shelter Tas, any commitment was better than nothing, but both promises fall shy of what their projections lead them to call for - 1000 houses a year for four years and a 10-year plan to have 10 per cent of all housing available as social housing.
Chief executive Pattie Chugg agreed that it was time for the federal government to come to the party.
"The federal government needs to have a national affordable housing strategy as there is a housing crisis right across the nation. Partnership between the state and federal government is essential to support the state to build new homes and to resource the services that people need," she said.
Reaching out federally
Senator Jacqui Lambie told The Examiner she was open to rallying the federal government to jump onboard with housing in Tasmania.
"I'll always look for ways to get more social housing built for people who need it. Anything I can do with the federal government, the state government, or anyone else - you bet I'll do it," she said.
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer reiterated that housing was a "responsibility of the state".
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"I will be discussing this issue further with colleagues who are involved in the newly established Cabinet Taskforce on women's security and economic security."
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