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Housing assistance in Australia


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)


A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown there were 436,300 social housing dwellings nationwide at June 2020, two-thirds (68%) of which were located in major cities.

The report, Housing assistance in Australia, shows the housing mix was 300,400 (69%) public housing dwellings, 103,900 (24%) community housing dwellings, 14,600 (3%) state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH), and 17,400 (4%) Indigenous community housing.

‘Across Australia, most (69%) social housing households were located in major cities, followed by inner regional areas (17%), outer regional areas (9%), remote areas (2%), and very remote areas (3%),’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips.

While the number of households in social housing has generally increased over the decade to mid-2020, social housing has not kept pace with the growth in the overall number of households in Australia. The proportion of social housing households declined from 4.7% in 2010 to 4.2% in 2020.

In Australia’s 3 main social housing programs, there were around 802,000 occupants in 2019–20. Around 563,900 people (70%) were in public housing, 188,200 (23%) in community housing, and 49,900 (6%) in SOMIH.

‘Social housing allocation is based on eligibility and pathways, and can be dependent upon a number of factors including greatest need, wait times and priority group allocations,’ Dr. Phillips said.

Households considered to be in greatest need spent less time waiting than other households. For newly allocated public housing, 42% of households in greatest need were allocated housing in less than 3 months while the majority (75%) received housing within one year.

Federal and state governments provide various forms of financial support to assist people on lower incomes to meet housing costs, whether it is rental costs, mortgage repayments, saving a deposit for a home purchase or accessing finance.

The report found that 1.7 million individuals or families were receiving $4.7 billion of Commonwealth Rent Assistance at 26 June 2020.

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