Housing affordability is front and centre of the Morrison government’s mind, according to federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar.
Mr Sukkar pointed to the combination of the first-home buyer super saver scheme, the first-home buyer 5 per cent deposit scheme and the National Housing Finance Corporation as the range of federal initiatives tackling the country’s housing woes.
“All those things mean we’re really placing housing affordability at the centre of our thinking as a government,” Mr Sukkar said.
He also claimed Australia’s housing affordability was at its best in 20 years.
“Does that mean we’re happy with where things are? Of course not, but it is encouraging to see affordability is inching back from where it was in the heat of the housing boom,” Mr Sukkar said.
The Housing Industry Association last week issued a press statement in which it claimed housing affordability was “the best it’s been since 1999” by calculating dwelling prices, mortgage interest rates and wage developments. The veracity of that measurement has been questioned.
The Housing Minister was in Glebe, in Sydney’s inner west, on Wednesday to announce a $40 million concessional loan to community housing provider Bridge Housing.
The 10-year, low-interest loan will enable Bridge Housing to refinance existing projects and fund new ones.
It will support almost 300 social and affordable dwellings with most of the loan refinancing existing development programs in the Sydney suburbs of Glebe, Blacktown, Parramatta and Ashfield.
About $12.6 million of the loan will develop 16 new townhouses in Dulwich Hill, in the city’s inner west, as well as the acquisition and redevelopment of eight units in Punchbowl, in the south west.
“Let’s not forget even the work the community housing providers do impacts the private rental market, which then impacts first-home buyers … it’s a continuum – you tweak one end of the spectrum and it helps the other,” Mr Sukkar said.
Bridge Housing chief executive John Nicolades said the federal government could directly invest in social housing and stimulate the economy at the same.
“We know that from previous interventions that’s a pretty effective way of stimulating the economy and getting the building industry going,” Mr Nicolades said, adding that during the Rudd government’s stimulus spending, 6000 new social housing dwellings were built in NSW in two years.
Meanwhile, the first-home buyer 5 per cent deposit scheme, pledged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the final week of the election campaign, was on track, Mr Sukkar said, and would running by January 1, with legislation to be introduced in spring.
Mr Sukkar said that on top of income thresholds, the scheme would have geographic price thresholds.
“Only first homes below a certain value [will be allowed under the scheme] … those are to be determined and they will be determined on a geographic basis. Obviously, the cap for a house or an apartment in Sydney is going to be different to a cap on a house or apartment in Perth or Melbourne.”
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