Rethinking housing assistance

Adapting amid shortages

Rethinking housing assistance


By Mina Martin

According to recent AHURI research, Australia's social housing system faced a significant challenge in the 2021-22 period, as more than 174,600 households applied for social housing but only 29,100 received placements.

This considerable shortfall has escalated reliance on private rental assistance, becoming an essential element of housing support for many who remain unaccommodated in social housing.

The AHURI research pointed out multiple challenges and proposed improvements aimed at enhancing the efficacy of housing assistance programs to better serve those in need.

Challenges in private rental assistance

While private rental assistance aims to bridge the gap for those with less acute needs, its effectiveness remains in question.

The AHURI research highlighted critical issues, including the short duration of most leases and a high rate of forced moves among private tenants.

Additionally, a considerable percentage of tenants who transition from private rental assistance back to social housing indicates challenges in sustaining these tenancies long-term.

Economic constraints and affordability

The affordability criteria for private rental assistance – requiring the rent to be less than 50% to 55% of an applicant’s income – pose another barrier.

With rising rental prices, finding suitable accommodation within these parameters is increasingly difficult, compounding the challenges for applicants relying on this form of assistance.

Opportunities for improvement

The AHURI research suggested several enhancements to the private rental assistance process.

Key recommendations include streamlining application procedures, making information more accessible, and developing personalised plans to help applicants access a broader range of services.

These measures aim to improve the efficacy of housing assistance programs and better support those in need during these challenging times.

Read the AHURI media release here.

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