Housing News Digest

RobertThe Tenants' Union Housing News Digest compiles our pick of items from all the latest tenancy and housing media. It is sent every Monday and Thursday at 10am. 

Below is the Digest archive from November 2020 onwards. From time to time you will find additional items in the archive that did not make it into the twice weekly Digest email. Earlier archives are here, where you can also find additional digests by other organisations. 

Our e-magazine, Tenant News is sent once every two months.

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See notes about the Digest and a list of other contributors here. Many thanks to those contributors for sharing links with us.

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Soaring housing costs are pushing retirees into areas where disaster risks are high

Lois Towart
The Conversation (No paywall)

The impacts of a closed border and recent floods have highlighted the challenges facing older Australians who live permanently in caravan parks and manufactured home estates. These properties have long provided affordable housing for retirees, particularly those who rely on the age pension and have limited assets or housing equity. Residents typically own their caravan or mobile home and pay a regular site rental. Two trends are emerging as problems for these residents ... [Read on]


# Research alert NSW, Land-lease-communities, Climate change, Disasters - storm, fire, flood etc, Older people, Short-term holiday letting.

Victoria grants 40-year lease on public land for new social housing

Duncan Murray
The Fifth Estate (No paywall)

The Victorian government hopes to deliver an Australian-first social housing project through the leasing of public land to private developers. Three publicly owned precincts in Melbourne will be leased for 40 years at a nominal peppercorn fee to allow construction of more than 1100 new dwellings, 619 of which will be social housing. At the end of the 40 years, the entire portfolio will come under the ownership of new state government agency, Homes Victoria.


# Australia, Public-and-community-housing, Rent, Affordable housing, State Government.

States Struggle to Give Out Over $45 Billion in Rental Assistance as Evictions Continue

Annie Nova
(No paywall)

From the United States ... Congress has allocated more than $45 billion in rental assistance. But states are struggling to get the money to renters, many of whom are still facing the threat of eviction. ... The delays are due to the fact that states are figuring out how to distribute an unprecedented amount of money, experts say. In addition, housing advocates say that some states are unnecessarily slowing things by imposing arduous documentation requirements for tenants to qualify. Another issue is that state programs have the option of giving the money directly to a renter if their landlord refuses to participate, but most aren't doing so ... (CNBC)


# International, Eviction, Rent, Coronavirus COVID-19, Landlords and agents.

Developers to be levied for affordable housing across City of Sydney

Angus Thompson
The Sydney Morning Herald (Paywall)

Sydney’s centre will be the first place in the state to implement an affordable housing scheme that will see developers face levies to build new homes across the local government area. The NSW government has given the go-ahead for the City of Sydney to extend its scheme requiring new developments to make financial or floor-space contributions towards new rental housing throughout the municipality.


# NSW, Affordable housing, Local Government, Planning and development, State Government, Tax.

A welcome plan for social housing for the needy

Letters, The Age

Scroll through Letters to the Editor. Here's the first letter at the top of the column ... Anthony Albanese’s commitment to social housing (The Age, 14/5) provides a much needed vision for Australians on low incomes. The added importance of this announcement is the inclusion of older women in the target groups to be housed. It is projected that 440,000 private renters aged over 65 will be living in poverty by 2031 if investment in affordable rental housing is not tackled by governments. The royal commission also recognised the importance of affordable housing investment to ensure a fair aged care system. Whilst more than 1million people receive home-based aged care, this “right” is not available for many older, private renters who are evicted because they can’t afford their rent, the owner decides to sell or they are denied permission by landlords for home modifications to enable ageing-in-place. You cannot access aged care services if you are homeless. Here's the next letter ... Hooray for Labor and its $10billion for social housing. Safe, supportive, secure housing is core to our wellbeing. As a psychiatric nurse, I was witness to the alternative. It is a living hell for many of our fellow Australians and they deserve better.


# Must read Australia, Public-and-community-housing, Rent, Health, Housing market, Older people, Women.

Councils still failing to accommodate rough sleepers despite court ruling

Lucie Heath
Inside Housing (Paywall)

Some local authorities in England are still failing to provide emergency accommodation to rough sleepers despite a High Court ruling that found councils have the legal powers to help those who would not usually be eligible for support for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Housing charity Shelter, which was involved in the “landmark” High Court case, has warned that councils are leaving themselves open to legal challenge if they fail to accommodate people facing street homelessness while there is still a COVID-19 epidemic in England. In March a High Court judge ruled that councils can lawfully provide accommodation to those who they would not normally provide with support, for example due to their immigration status, during the COVID-19 crisis. The case involved a former asylum seeker, Timon Ncube, who found himself sleeping on the streets after his claim for asylum was refused.


# International, Homelessness, Local Government.

Rough sleepers in England to get £203m funding to help them off the streets

BBC (No paywall)

More rough sleepers in England will be helped off the streets and into housing this year as part of a £203m programme, the government has announced. Some 2,688 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on any single night in England last autumn. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the money will be given to councils to support shelters and specialist mental health or addiction services. But charity Crisis warned the funding "will only scratch the surface".


# International, Homelessness.

Australia is unlikely to ever go back to pre-GFC interest rates. We can’t afford to

Greg Jericho
The Guardian (No paywall)

With low wage growth and high mortgage values, we won’t be seeing interest rates climb back anytime soon ... The last time the Reserve Bank increased interest rates was November 2010, and the budget estimates it won’t happen again for at least four more years. But importantly, given the increased size of mortgages, we are unlikely to ever again see interest rates as high as they were before the GFC.


# Australia, Housing market.