The Australian Government has announced the details of the 2018–19 Federal Budget which includes a number of measures for housing, homelessness and urban issues. While the package is not as comprehensive as what was unveiled in the 2017 budget, there are some notable updates including the funding of $1.535 billion for the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) to start in July 2018.
The NHHA covers money previously allocated through the National Affordable Housing SPP (the National Affordable Housing Agreement) of $1.360 billion in 2017–18 and the Homelessness National Partnership payments ($117.2 million in 2017–18).
The Budget also includes $500,000 for the review of the National Regulatory System for Community Housing which aims to promote a nationally consistent approach to the regulation of community housing and to provide certainty for community housing providers and confidence to potential investors.
As part of the $75 billion to be invested in the nine years from 2018–19 to 2027–28 in new major transport projects and initiatives, the Government will provide $1 billion to establish the Urban Congestion Fund. This fund will support projects to remediate pinch points, improve traffic safety and increase network efficiency for commuter and freight movements in urban areas. The first monies allocated for the fund are $50 million in 2019–20.
Western Sydney City Deal
The Government will provide $125 million over five years from 2017–18 to support infrastructure projects and liveability initiatives under the Western Sydney City Deal, including $60 million to improve community infrastructure in Western Sydney and $15 million to accelerate planning and zoning reforms that will support housing supply in Western Sydney.
Remote Indigenous housing
The Government will provide $550 million over five years from 2018–19 as part of a bilateral agreement with the Northern Territory Government for remote Indigenous housing. This funding will provide property and tenancy management and address severe overcrowding in remote communities. However previous funding to Queensland, WA and SA ($392.2 million in 2017-18) for remote Indigenous housing will no longer be ongoing.
Social Impact Investing
The Australian Government has committed to expanding the potential role of Social Impact Investing (SII) by providing $6.7 million over four years from 2018–19 to build the capacity of the Australian Social Impact Investing sector as well as $1.6 million allocated from 2019 through to 2021 for SII trials which aim to help young people at risk of homelessness.
Reduced tax breaks for land bankers
The Government will deny deductions for expenses associated with holding vacant land. This addresses concerns that deductions are being improperly claimed for expenses, such as interest costs, related to holding vacant land, where the land is not genuinely held for the purpose of earning assessable income. This measure will also reduce tax incentives for land banking, which deny the use of land for housing or other development, and will take effect from 1 July 2019.
Government land released for housing
The Government will release land held in the Redland City, Queensland. The property, currently owned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, can support up to 400 homes and will increase the supply of land for housing in metropolitan Brisbane.
Better housing and homelessness data
The Australian Bureau of Statistics was allocated $4.8 four years from 2018–19 to allow it to build better estimates of the stock of affordable housing and to improve existing survey-based planning and zoning data and dwelling construction cost collections.
The Government will also provide $0.2 million in 2018–19 to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to bring together all major housing and homelessness data in a user friendly dashboard. In addition, the Government has allocated $5.5 million to AHURI over three years from 2018–19 to continue funding provided to the National Housing Research Program. The program provides an evidence base to support the development of future housing, urban development and homelessness policies.
You can find out more about these housing, homelessness and urban measures by viewing the office Budget papers at Budget 2018–19 website.