Governments have failed to properly finance social housing. In the 10 years from 1996, the Commonwealth Government stripped more than $3 billion from funding to social housing – almost $1 billion of that from social housing in New South Wales. Around Australia, social housing stocks have declined relative to the total housing stock – and in many states, stocks have declined absolutely.
Governments have also implemented rules for targeting social housing to the most needy households, and these rules have further undermined the viability of social housing. In New South Wales under the 'Reshaping Public Housing' reforms, social housing tenants on 'moderate incomes' face punishing rent increases and the termination of their tenancies. These reforms create a poverty trap for social housing tenants and further marginalise their neighbourhoods.
At the same time, social housing tenants are increasingly being treated differently at law. Public housing tenants may be required to sign 'Acceptable Behaviour Agreements', additional to their usual tenancy agreements, under threat of eviction.
The TU is opposed to legislation that places additional, unfair burdens on social housing tenants. We are opposed to using residential tenancy law to enforce draconian 'law and order' policies. We seek renewed investment by governments to make the social housing system – and social housing neighbourhoods – sustainable again.
Aboriginal community housing
Reforms to the regulation of NSW Aboriginal community housing will potentially have great impact on Aboriginal housing organisations and their tenants. The reforms are:
- the 'Build and Grow' strategy, which includes a new registration process and new, more stringent standards for Aboriginal housing providers funded by the Aboriginal Housing Office
- changes to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 that require local Aboriginal land councils to register their social housing operations with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and require NSWALC approval for a wider range of land transactions.
The Tenants' Union, NSW Aboriginal Tenants Advice Network, Shelter NSW and NCOSS commissioned a report to investigate the effect of reforms and to assist Aboriginal housing organisations in their responses to them. Download the report (Word format) from the link below.
- Aboriginal community housing in NSW: Where to from here? A review of the impact of current reforms and future directions [Word format] – Report by 99 Consulting and Koori Habitat, February 2011
- Update on Aboriginal community housing [Word format] – Tenants' Union of NSW, May 2011
- Social Housing Discussion Paper 2015 [Word format] - Tenants' Union of NSW, March 2015