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Report Social and affordable housing Housing assistance and policy

The construction of social housing pathways across Australia

This report examines the role of policy in shaping social housing pathways (i.e. the changing experience of housing by tenants and their households over time and space) through a review of current social housing operational policies. It considers application processes, eligibility criteria, rent, use of premises, tenant-initiated transfers, portfolio management and tenancy management by landlords. 

The social housing sector currently houses 396,100 households in a resource constrained environment. Between 2011 and 2016, government expenditure on social housing decreased 7 per cent from $1.42 billion to $1.32 billion, with the amount of available housing stock not keeping pace with the growing numbers of households experiencing housing affordability problems.

Social housing pathways are clearly impacted by the lack of housing stock that is fit for purpose and a lack of viable alternatives to social housing, namely a shortage of affordable, safe and secure private housing. Other key influences include the jurisdictional context; the long social housing wait lists, which have led to priority needs assessment and an increase in households in social housing with complex needs; the state of the private rental market; and the intersection of housing policy with other social policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Several of the policies affecting social housing pathways are strongly influenced by a need to manage the social housing wait list, rather than ensuring positive outcomes for tenants and their households. This research shows that this is not only a result of operational policies, but of the wider policy environment. In thinking about policy development options and reimagining social housing pathways, a focus on positive outcomes for tenants and households should be the priority.

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri-7118101

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-925334-80-7


Citation: Powell, A., Meltzer, A., Martin, C., Stone, W., Liu, E., Flanagan, K., Muir, K., and Tually, S. (2019) The construction of social housing pathways across Australia, AHURI Final Report No. 316, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/316, doi:10.18408/ahuri-7118101.

Powell, Abigail
Meltzer, Ariella
Martin, Chris
Stone, Wendy
Liu, Edgar
Flanagan, Kathleen
Muir, Kristy
Tually, Selina