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“Affordable housing” or “Housing affordability”

“Affordable housing” or “Housing affordability”

February 4, 2019

The story on “affordable housing” or “housing affordability” – what’s the difference?

It’s getting a little embarrassing for our federal politicians to interchangeably use these two phrases. Affordable housing is different to housing affordability.

Housing is a basic Human Right according to the United Nations, not an optional extra. From the UN website www.ohchr.org : “Housing is not merely a commodity, it’s a human right. The human right to adequate housing means the right for all to a place to live in security, peace and dignity.  The right to adequate housing is recognized under international human rights law in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in many other human rights treaties, international declarations and conference outcome documents, including the 1996 Habitat Agenda.“

So Prime Minister, when you release a National Housing Strategy, and don’t factor in accommodation for the 25,000 plus refugees you’re allowing to come to Australia, expecting each local authority to absorb them somehow, you’re breaching a basic UN human right by not funding accommodation appropriately. Social housing options are finite and exhausted everywhere. But that’s another conversation for another time.

Data shows we have many in our Canberra community with affordable housing as a daily issue – from sleeping rough through to having difficulty each week making rental payments. For some it starts as getting a roof, any roof, over their head. Often, they have no fixed address and they are often “hidden” in a visible sense. Moving to semi-permanent accommodation on a per night basis is better than nothing. In a progression sense, they will hopefully get a permanent address one day; then transition into rental accommodation at whatever address they’re given; and eventually might have the luxury of renting in a location and a price point of their choice one day.

Many in the other half of our Canberra community are affluent enough to have housing affordability as their issue – buying something on the property ladder.  The issue of housing affordability is real as it is a driver of our economy, and various government policy levers are being applied to assist home purchases, like first home owner grants.

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