A Tale of Two Housing Systems

Housing policy is a highly gendered issue
Women are the primary beneficiaries of housing support systems and assistance. Single women make up 45% of the 1.3 million income units in receipt of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). Single men account for 30% and couples 25% (see here). Females compose 60% of the 288 000 people assisted by specialist homelessness services (SHS). And across all social housing programs 61% of main tenants are women. Gendered patterns of housing support and assistance reflect the gendered contours of housing need and reveal the demand for housing solutions that are gender responsive.
Women also live longer compared to men and on less, gendered income and retirement gaps show no signs of shrinking, and violence continues to displace women and their children from their homes. The disadvantaged position of women in housing systems calls for greater housing stock that is both affordable and appropriate for women and their families.
Current housing funding arrangements embed this disadvantage. If decisions contained in this Budget maintain the housing status quo, this implies a lack of concern for addressing the second-class status of women and current gender inequality.
As recent research from AHURI finds, “the typical negatively-geared investor is male; aged in his mid-to-late forties; employed full-time; and has a tax assessable income, or income before deductions, of $91, 000” (p. 1). While estimates vary, it is suggested that the impact of negative gearing alone on the Federal Budget is at least $2 billion.
On the other hand, the typical social housing tenant is a woman. In public housing she is a woman over 55 and living alone. In State Owned and Managed Indigenous Housing, she is a woman aged 25-54 with dependent children. And in community housing she is a woman over 45 and living alone (see here). The annual Commonwealth funding for social housing and homelessness services from 2018-19 through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement is $1.5 billion. Given that housing affordability has reached crisis levels which is propelling an increasing number of people into homelessness, housing affordability measures must be a priority for significantly greater investment.

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