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Sunday, 7 June 2015


Conditions attached to the gifting of public housing.
Since the transfer of titles is sometimes preceded by a period of management outsourcing anyway - lets look at the extraordinary loose conditions placed by the government in Victoria upon the Community Housing Providers who are given the titles of public housing.

 You might think that, in exchange for being given the properties and receiving all the rents, they would be taking over the role of public housing? Think again.

The Government guideline states that 'up to 50%' of the vacancies need to be from the public housing waiting list – or eligible to be on the waiting list. The 'UP TO' loophole renders the whole thing rather meaningless.

A recent Public Private Partnership in Victoria resulted in only 10-15% of its newly built properties being made available to people on low incomes. Obviously the developers and the ALP government think that this is a fair and reasonable exchange.

Maybe this gives us a clue as to what percentage can result under the 'up to 50%' Government guideline.

So - the titles of desperately needed and publicly owned properties are handed over to Community Housing businesses. In return Community Housing allocates up to 50% of vacancies to those on the waiting list or eligible to be on it.

The rest of the vacancies - we predict well over half – can be rented out to prospective tenants with an income of up to $905 gross per week – well above the income threshold of people on low incomes. Compare this with the maximum weekly rates for a person on  Disability Pension -$388       Sole Parent - $360        Newstart -$258

In other words former public housing properties are being given away and end up being offered to a different clientele altogether.

Predictably those at the bottom end of the economic scale, the most disadvantaged people, will fall through the cracks, having had their housing ( public housing ) privatised without them being aware of it. They will end up displaced, living in housing stress, squeezed out to make way for gentrification, living in boarding houses, experiencing food insecurity, or made destitute or homeless. This is why the privatisation by stealth of public housing is such a class issue.

The misuse of Commonwealth Rent Assistance – CRA 
What's more, regarding the percentage of tenancies which are taken from the public housing waiting list, or eligible to be on the waiting list ( a later amendment ) – for these the Community Housing Provider can charge 30% of a renter's income in addition to the maximum amount of Commonwealth Rent Assistance it can, which goes directly to the Community Housing Provider.

As stated by the peak body CHFA - Commonwealth Rent Assistance was never intended as an operating subsidy for Community Housing companies, but has effectively become one over time.

In fact, Commonwealth Rent Assistance adds around 50% to rental income across a provider's whole operation over and above what would be received if rents were not optimised for CRA. The peak body for Community Housing also makes it clear that ongoing access to CRA is 'crucial' to maintaining their businesses. 

That's a hell of a lot of ongoing taxpayer-funded money needed to prop up community housing associations and providers, who now own the properties, in order for them to provide even a percentage of vacancies to those on low incomes and pensions.

The public has a right to know just what community housing - sometimes referred to as social housing - is really costing.

Compare this to Public Housing where tenants receive no Commonwealth Rent Assistance whatsoever, because the rents are genuinely within their means, ( and go back into the public purse ) and you have to ask 'Which is the real subsidised housing here?'

Like the National Rental Affordability Scheme- NRAS - these schemes do not make good financial sense. They are financial black holes which the taxpayer has to pay for.


pp 22. 41. 43. 44. 45.

                                                 FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC

                                          KEEP PUBLIC HOUSING IN PUBLIC HANDS


  1. Good blog - a clear exposure of the privatisation of public housing and also the practices of rent relief which benefit the rich and other schemes. Not familiar with NRAS but will look into it. There's a huge outcry about the govt trying to privatise Medicare but the privatisation of public housing is just rolling along unhindered. It sucks because it is the only housing that remains where a quarter of income is taken out as rent. People don't realise that this used to be the standard for all housing. That was what people expected to pay as rent. Now people pay 50-60 % or more of their income in rent. There are so many people in housing stress.

  2. The idea that 25% of income is a livable rental goes way back. It was determined before it was common that women were in the workforce. So, you think, what has women working to do with rent? Study the development of the market and you'll see in the 60's or so they statred selling houses based on two incomes. The capitalist wants to maximise their grab, so landlords started pushing rents up based on the two income family. Over time this priced lots of people out of the market if they were a one income family or single or a pensioner. Government rent remains at the 25% of income as a fair rent that should not put a person in rent-related poverty.

    Once the housing is no longer government, rent goes up bit by bit and many other possible added charges may be applied, this applies to much of the so called "social housing" but not all.

    To overcome these problems we need to force governments to build more housing, government housing. Hammer your local pollies and spread the word that government housing is a right, it should be in ample supply and it shold be available to all who want to live in government housing regardless of income.