Social housing

Social housing is the part of our housing system that ensures that market failure does not exclude people from appropriate housing.  It is housing owned or subsidised and/or regulated by government to meet this objective.

In Australia this term covers both housing managed by government and housing managed by non-profit community organisations.  Recently the descriptive term ‘affordable housing’ has come to be used to mean rental housing specifically subsidised and managed to provide access to those on moderate incomes who cannot afford the private rental market in an area, but who are not eligible for our increasingly rationed ‘social housing’. 

For the past 20 years, funding for social housing has fallen.  This had led to it being targeted to those in greater need, excluding many families experiencing housing stress in the private market.  And this, in turn, has led to falling income streams for social housing providers.

The upshot has been falling numbers of social housing properties.  It has also led to seeing social housing as a time limited stop gap as people’s circumstances improve or they are supported to manage in the private market.

Shelter and social housing

Shelter focusses on a wide range of social housing issues – but particularly on what social housing policies mean for social housing tenants.  These include:

  • public tenants in estate renewal
  • public housing sales
  • transfers between public & community housing
  • tenancy management
  • eligibility and allocation
  • support services for social housing tenants

Recently we have made submissions to inquiries on:

  • The discussion paper on Social Housing in NSW
  • Cost effectiveness of social housing management
  • Housing affordability inquiry

 We have also produced Shelter Briefs based on research with social housing tenants. Most recently we produced a brief on:

  • Social housing visions: what tenants and front-line workers value in social housing