Labor’s commitment to affordable housing as a bedrock of Australia’s ‘fair go’ mentality is being called into question this week as the government failed to confirm any extension to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
Responses by FaHCSIA executives during this week’s budget estimates hearings have confirmed that the Government’s unwillingness to make a decision is delaying planning for further NRAS incentives.
Housing campaign group Australians for Affordable Housing is dismayed by the government’s complete turn around on NRAS – its key affordable rental program.
‘When Labor first announced NRAS, the then Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek promised that if it was a success the program would be extended beyond the initial 50,000 allocations. In fact, the original NRAS prospectus promised an additional 50,000 incentives after the first round,’ said Joel Pringle, Campaign Manager for Australians for Affordable Housing.
‘NRAS has been popular with the community and it’s been over-subscribed by potential investors. By all measures, it has been a raging success and has been providing relief from rental stress for people on low incomes as the properties are rolled out.’
‘If Labor was to deliver on their promise of continuing NRAS beyond the current round, the additional investment would be in the Federal budget’s forward estimates. The Minister for Housing, Mark butler, needs to explain the reasons behind Labor’s backflip.’
‘We’ve seen the end of the Social Housing Initiative, with no ongoing commitment to building new social housing. We’ve seen the end of the Building Better Regional Cities program and the Housing Affordability Fund, both programs that lowered the cost of new housing.’
‘These were important initiatives from the government’s early days, these programs are being allowed to disappear. It appears that NRAS will join them on the chopping block, at a time of sky-rocketing rents and increasing rental stress.’
‘It’s also time for the Opposition to announce their plan to address the housing crisis to give the community an informed decision in the upcoming election.’
‘Australians for Affordable Housing is calling on both parties to commit to a future for the National Rental Affordability Scheme, to provide certainty to industry as it plans for the roll-out and provide hope to the families struggling with high and rising housing costs,’ said Mr Pringle.
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