A report in the Australian on Friday 10 February suggests that the Commonwealth is considering cutting the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA). The NAHA provides the majority of the subsidies for public housing and funding for homelessness services.
In NSW this is worth $430 million in 2016-17. NSW receives a further $72 million from the Commonwealth through two partnership agreements, and spends a further $428 million of state grants and $867 million of tenant rents and charges on housing and homelessness. On the face of it, cutting the NAHA would reduce the funds available to run our housing and homelessness system by nearly a quarter.
While the article was short on detail, it is likely that it reflects at least tentative government thinking. It also rehashes the routine Commonwealth puzzlement that it spends $1.5 billion, but public housing stock is reducing and homelessness has increased.
But it should not be a surprise. By the time the NAHA replaced the previous CSHA, funding was no longer enough to increase stock; and simply funded part of the recurrent costs - largely because the rental income had fallen dramatically due to targeting public housing to those on the lowest incomes. Moreover, demand for both social housing and homelessness services has been largely been driven by Commonwealth policies - particularly the speculation-fueled by tax concessions for investors.
There has been a very strong reaction from housing, homelessness and wider community organisations to the suggestions of cuts to the NAHA. National Shelter's press release can be read here and other discussion can be found here.
You can tell the PM not to cut public housing and homelessness funding in the Budget by going to the Vote Home page: https://www.change.org/m/vote-home-let-s-end-the-hou…/u/1064