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Social housing surveys highlight costs of Howard Government neglect.



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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Housing; Urban Development, Local Government and Territories

15/6/06

Social housing surveys highlight costs of

Howard Government neglect

Senator Kim Carr today said that the latest bulletins from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) confirm the benefits of public and community housing and provide an insight into the costs of the Howard Government’s short-sighted neglect.

Senator Carr said: “These reports show just how much people gain from finding secure and affordable housing in the public and community sectors - which makes it even more appalling that the Howard Government has stripped funding from the system, meaning fewer and fewer people can get in each year.

“Labor believes that secure and affordable housing is square one in building a decent life.

“The AIHW reports confirm this, finding that there are massive benefits to people from moving into public or community housing.

“For public housing tenants, more than 91 per cent said they felt more settled than when they were in the private market, 90 per cent could manage their money better, 86 per cent were more able to cope and 80 per cent said they had better access to services.

“Importantly, 53 per cent of public housing tenants said that being in public housing helped them to start or continue with education programs and 44 per cent said they were in a better situation in terms of finding and keeping a job.

“Given the relatively high level of disadvantage faced by new public housing tenants, these are significant findings - findings that any government which was genuinely interested in helping people move from welfare to work would take seriously.

“But instead of understanding the benefits and accepting that public housing is a cost-effective way to support people who cannot afford private rental, the Howard

Government has stripped back it’s funding under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement by over 30 per cent since 1996.

“The result is that public housing authorities are basically broke and have been forced to sell off stock, reducing the number of public housing dwellings across Australia from over 372,000 in 1996-97 to around 345,000 in 2003-04.

“In turn, this has led to a 50 per cent reduction in the number of new tenants coming into public housing each year - from 50,000 in 1996 to 25,000 this year. In 2009, it is expected that only 15,000 new tenants will be able to get into public housing.

“When the benefits of public housing are so clear, the only justification the Howard Government can possibly have for its policy is extreme ideology,” said Senator Carr.

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922

Electorate Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639 3109 Canberra Office: Parliament house CANBERRA ACT 2600 Ph: 02 6277 3730 Fax: 02 6277 5911