Housing is a basic human right enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In a modern, industrialised and relatively wealthy nation like Australia there is no excuse for homelessness or people being forced into sub-standard accommodation.
For over 30 years State and Federal Governments have reduced public housing stock in line with their neo liberal agendas. Public works departments have been shut down, with any new public housing being built by the private sector.
Public housing has been restricted to welfare housing and renamed “social housing” with a narrowed criteria for eligibility. More than 176,000 households are on waiting lists with an estimated waiting time of over 10 years in some suburbs and in many regional areas there is no stock at all. It is estimated that by 2020, one million Australians will be suffering from housing stress.
Housing affordability has fallen to its lowest level ever, yet over the past decade more than $3 billion was taken out of public housing. The Communist Party of Australia supports a national, government funded and owned public housing program with affordable rents based on income. We call for an immediate build-up in the stock of public housing which has suffered as a result of these policies.
The CPA puts forward following policy measures:
- Substantial increases in government funding from all three levels of government for the construction of public housing, restoration of existing public housing and purchase of additional homes from the private sector. Reverse the present trend where governments spend six times more on private housing – through grants and subsidies to home buyers – than they spend on public housing.
- Planned construction of public housing in rural and regional areas as well as cities according to social needs.
- Construction of public housing to be carried out by the public sector and wherever possible Australian products to be used.
- Public housing to be integrated with other housing and to provide for a mix of people. There should be no pockets of public housing for the disadvantaged.
- Raise eligibility for public housing to an income level of $80,000.
- State governments to exercise their powers to control rents and to plan development in response to social needs, not the wishes of profiteering developers.
- Public housing to have a set rental as a percentage of income.
- Rental reductions for public housing tenants in cases of loss of jobs through retrenchment or sickness.
- Rental controls on private housing and measures to protect tenants during periods of financial stress.
- Superannuation funds to be required to invest a certain percentage of their funds in the construction of public housing with a return of income from government.
- Timely and proper maintenance and upkeep of all public housing.
The CPA will do its utmost to expose and oppose all politicians and political parties who support the privatisation of public housing and public housing land.
There is no material impediment to Australia adopting once again a large-scale commitment to public housing. The problem is government support for private profit making in the housing sector.