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Housing crisis set to intensify in ‘unhealthy’ market

Housing has become more expensive for all Australians no matter where they live or how much they earn.

And a government-appointed council says it will only get worse, with the Commonwealth expected to fall short of its housing target by hundreds of thousands of homes.

The independent National Housing Supply and Affordability Council will launch its inaugural report on Friday, which paints a dire portrait of Australia’s housing system.

Housing insecurity has emerged with rental vacancy rates hitting all-time lows. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

It shows housing affordability worsened in 2023 from already challenging levels and could deteriorate further thanks to three consecutive years of significant housing shortfalls.

By the 2028/29 financial year, Australia will still be 39,000 dwellings short, the report predicts.

With rents far outpacing wage growth and rental vacancy rates hitting all-time lows, housing insecurity and homelessness has emerged.

Nearly 170,000 households are on public housing wait lists and 122,000 people are experiencing homelessness.

Meanwhile, only 13 per cent of homes sold in 2022-23 were affordable for a household earning the median income.

Low-income earners, young people, those with disabilities, First Nations Australians and people fleeing domestic and family violence have been hit hardest.

Australia’s housing market is “far from healthy”, the council’s chair Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz wrote in the report’s foreword.

“An unhealthy market has periods of rampant price growth, is unable to produce enough supply to meet demand, is overly reliant on an unsupported private market to address most of Australia’s shelter needs, creates scarcity and cannot match the rich expansion of demand with a breadth of housing choice,” she said.

“The problems in our housing market are deep seated and there is no easy fix.”

While insufficient supply is a fundamental driver of Australia’s housing issues, Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz says they are exacerbated by rising interest rates, skills shortages in the construction industry, builder insolvencies and the resumption of migration.

In August, the federal and state governments committed to building 1.2 million well-located homes over five years with demand projected to grow by 871,000 by the end of this period.

Although the report deemed the plan “suitably ambitious,” it warns the government will fall short of its target by roughly 250,000 dwellings and needs to implement measures that boost supply further.

Insufficient supply is a fundamental driver of the housing crisis, the report warns. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Housing Minister Julie Collins will launch the report on Friday.

“This report lays bare the challenges in Australia’s housing system,” she is expected to say.

“(It) also provides us all with an opportunity to change our housing system, to change direction.”

The council recommends governments focus on 10 areas including investing in social housing, reducing homelessness, improving the rental market, bolstering planning systems and ensuring the tax system supports supply.