This charter was adopted by the Socialist Alliance on July 31, 2021.
Affordable, quality and sustainable housing for all
1. Not all Australians have access to decent, affordable and secure housing. Aside from homelessness, people battle to keep a roof over their head and are forced to live in locations inconvenient to work, education and social participation.
2. This social crisis is a result of inadequate incomes combined with rising housing costs, and a lack of affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, house prices have risen at a far greater rate than household incomes, creating barriers to home ownership and putting greater pressure on rental accommodation.
3. The availability of public and private rental properties has declined. The public housing sector has shrunk under the neoliberal agenda of Labor and Coalition governments. Capital funding for public housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement has been in absolute decline for decades and has barely been enough to replace old stock, let alone meet growing need. The government’s policy priority has shifted from providing low-income earners with a genuine alternative to private rental and home ownership, towards welfare housing instead.
4. In response, state housing authorities have tightened eligibility criteria for public housing to people with high needs, such as mental health problems or homelessness, and eliminated security of tenure. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people/households remained on public housing waiting lists.
5. Companies and private owners buy and sell houses for speculative purposes, encouraged by generous tax benefits such as capital gains tax reductions and negative gearing incentives. This speculation inflates house prices and makes housing unaffordable for lower income people, trapping them in a lifetime of renting.
6. Eligibility criteria for public and community housing has a dramatic effect on the degree of social disadvantage and stigmatisation associated with social (public and community) housing. Narrowing eligibility criteria to only people with the highest socio-economic need has the effect of entrenching socio-economic disadvantage. Such policies exacerbate social disharmony and community dysfunction in public housing areas and undermine community development.
7. Low cost housing is not being produced due to market failure. Not enough low-cost housing is built as it is not profitable enough, compared to investment housing. Private landlords succeed in renting expensive housing to tenants as cheaper, affordable houses do not exist.
8. Housing supply must be well located and well serviced with supporting jobs, public transport and social and community infrastructure. It also needs to take advantage of energy efficiency to reduce living costs for residents.
Socialist Alliance policy
Housing is a basic human right that should not be reduced to a commodity only available at the whim of the market. We aim for housing that is affordable, secure, good quality and appropriately located for all.
Socialist Alliance advocates a massive expansion of public housing. We would like to reach a situation where anyone who wants public housing can get it without delay. Public housing should not be a residual service grudgingly provided only to those who can prove they are extremely poor. It should be available for all workers who want it.
By constructing high quality public housing for working-class people on a large scale, state and federal governments would also be creating jobs.
To achieve this, we need to:
Build public housing
- Actively resist the sell off and give away of public housing to private corporations as well as the push to convert public housing into social housing.
- Establish a large-scale building program good quality, creatively designed, energy efficient, appropriately located, affordable, long term public housing with a low carbon footprint, to suit a wide variety of domestic arrangements, including the needs of people living communally, in extended families and in Aboriginal communities, available for all who choose it;
- Establish publicly-owned and controlled not-for-profit public housing construction enterprises to oversee the expansion and maintenance of public housing stock, including retrofitting for climate sustainability and energy efficiency with insulation and solar hot water;
- Directly involve construction unions in implementing the construction and maintenance program and include an investment in apprenticeships and training to meet the labour needs. All overseas workers to work under the same award conditions as Australian workers;
- Community control of public housing through democratically-elected housing boards comprised of tenants and housing workers;
- Prioritise the housing needs of the most disadvantaged people, including people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, and Aboriginal people (especially those in remote areas), then progressively expand access to public housing until all who want it can get it. Invest in social infrastructure to support housing - local health services, education, employment and other services and access to quality public transport;
Regulate the private sector
- Eliminate capital gains tax exemptions and negative gearing incentives.
- Address spiralling rental price increases by capping rents at current levels for at least the next 10 years.
- Ban ‘no grounds’ evictions
- Establish a bill of rights for renters (including rights to long-term leases, pets and guarantees against unfair eviction);
- Mandate state and local governments planning frameworks to legislate for developer allocations of 30% of housing for low rent tenants in major new developments
- Mandate high standards for private accommodation and require landlords to fix problems and maintain private housing stock in good condition. Nationalise and renovate all substandard landlord holdings.
- Expand funding to, and support the development of, resident controlled housing co-operatives
Expand accommodation and financial assistance
- Establish a state-owned body to provide low-interest home loans for those in need
- Extend rent assistance to low income home buyers for mortgage assistance as well as to those receiving Austudy payments.
- Adopt the Housing First model, which views the provision of permanent and stable housing, without conditions and with genuine wrap around services, as the first priority for tackling homelessness
- Increase funding to a level sufficient to provide crisis accommodation for all who need it, as well as to maintain support services to assist homeless persons into independent accommodation and preventive programs for those at risk of homelessness. Ensure a continuum of support from crisis accommodation through to long-term stable accommodation.
- Provide high quality, community-based, supported accommodation for people with disabilities or other special needs. Fully fund refuges and other secure emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence.
- Provide outreach workers to seek out service providers to guide them through the funding process, in order to ease the onerous bureaucratic requirements that these service providers have to endure in order to get and retain funding.
- Provide additional funding to community organisations to enable them to provide education, training and housing assistance packages to young homeless people.
- Provide additional funding for programs which provide support services for the aged homeless including additional funding to ensure greater access to aged care accommodation.