Respected economist joins call for more affordable housing

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One of Australia’s most respected economists has joined a call for more affordable housing in the nation’s fastest-growing regions.

Former ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake has told an affordable housing forum at Bond University on the Gold Coast the task of finding a home they can afford is about to get even tougher for many Aussies.

“Australia does have an ongoing housing affordability problem, which on present indications is likely to get worse as house prices and rents rise and as interest rates continue to rise, albeit perhaps more gradually than financial markets were thinking before this week,” Mr Eslake told reporters on Friday.

The forum, held by the Gold Coast Housing Company and the Urban Development Institute of Australia, has called for smaller house and land sizes, and an increase in funding for community and not-for-profit housing programs to help combat the problem.

“We’re seeing a significant recovery in building approvals, as demonstrated by the figures for December that show housing approvals are now running at an annual rate of almost 175,000 per annum,” Mr Eslake said.

“But given the increase in underlying demand driven by strong growth in migration, even that figure isn’t enough to make significant inroads into the housing shortage which we now have across Australia.

“I’m optimistic people are now beginning to recognise that continually rising house prices aren’t necessarily a good thing for society as a whole, and that we’re starting to have some serious conversations about doing something on the supply side of the housing industry, rather than simply pumping up the demand through increased cash grants.”

Queensland Housing Minister Karen Struthers warned a major stumbling block for the provision of affordable housing was the entrenched resistance of many people to affordable housing coming in to their suburb.

“One of the disappointing things to me as minister is the NIMBY syndrome – Not In My Back Yard,” she said.

“We’re trying to offer affordable accommodation, quality accommodation which is sometimes the best in the street.”

AAP

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