Well before the impacts of the 2020 pandemic, large numbers of lower income Australian households were struggling to find affordable housing and there were long wait lists for social housing. AHURI research estimated that in 2016, there was a shortfall of around 431,000 social housing dwellings, and that this deficit would grow to 727,300 dwellings by 2036. The research concluded that 36,000 new social housing dwellings per year were required to meet this need.
With high unemployment and increased incidence of homelessness a likely outcome of the economic downturn, new social housing will be essential to ensure housing outcomes do not worsen. Industry and community organisations and peak bodies are calling for a social housing building program as part of the economic stimulus response. For example, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), in a recent report, proposes building 30,000 social housing dwellings as a way to reduce homelessness and to boost employment.