Submissions into a Senate inquiry into affordable housing are due 25 March.

19 March 2014 – National Rental Affordability Scheme supporters have until 25 March to make submissions to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics inquiry into affordable housing.

The impending conclusion of the inquiry, which opened for submissions since 12 December 2013, coincides with one of the key Commonwealth affordable housing initiatives, NRAS, roundly lambasted by the conservative media and called into question by the federal government.

The operation, effect and future of the NRAS is specifically one of the matters the inquiry will consider, in addition to the operation of rent and housing assistance programs and the effect of policies designed to increase housing supply.

The terms of reference also include:

  • Examining the role of all levels of government in facilitating affordable home ownership and affordable private rental, including the effect of policies designed to encourage home ownership and residential property investment.
  • The impact of Commonwealth, state and territory government policies and programs on homelessness.
  • The role of innovation in building materials and construction, including prefabricated and sustainable materials.
  • The impacts of improving sustainability (including energy efficiency) of new and existing housing stock on improving housing affordability.
  • The need to develop improved overview and accountability mechanisms in relation to Commonwealth grants and funding to the states and territories in order to ensure that public funding delivers outcomes consistent with Commonwealth objectives.
  • Planning and policies that will ensure that women, particularly vulnerable women, have access to secure, appropriate, affordable and adaptable accommodation.
  • Planning and policies that will ensure emergency and essential service workers have access to affordable housing close to where they work.
  • Planning and policies that will ensure the availability of an appropriately skilled workforce.
  • The role of innovative and responsible funding mechanisms used in other countries, including the United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Canada, Austria and the Netherlands, that provide a stable and cost effective way of funding affordable rental and social housing, such as affordable housing supply bonds and an affordable housing finance corporation.
  • The role and contribution of the community housing sector in delivering social and affordable renting housing;
  • The need to increase the supply of accessible and adaptable housing, and housing that is culturally appropriate.
  • The impact of not having a long-term, national affordable housing plan.

As of 18 March, 42 submissions have so far been received from organisations and individuals including BIS Shrapnel, The Reserve Bank of Australia, the Taxpayers Party of Australia, Tamworth Regional Council, Victorian Public Tenants Association, National Foundation for Australian Women, NRAS Providers Limited, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, West Australian Local Government Association, the Mortgage and Finance Association, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett and Dr Julie Lawson and Professor Mike Berry from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research.

Submissions are due by 25 March and can be uploaded here.

The committee is due to report on its findings by 26 June 2014.