Tuesday, April 23, 2024

ALGA calls for additional $250m to hit housing targets

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) says the Federal Government’s new Housing Support Program must be increased to $750 million to empower councils to help deliver on housing targets.

The competitive program will provide funding for connecting essential services, amenities to support new housing development, and building planning capability.

ALGA President, City of Sydney Councillor, Linda Scott said the Association was a proud signatory of the National Housing Accord, which has set a target of 1.2 million new, well-located homes over the next five years.

However, under the current $500 million housing program, this only equates to about $400 per home, based on the 1.2 million homes target, she said.

Given the costs of civil and essential services infrastructure in greenfield or infill development, the program funding is vastly insufficient, said President Scott.

“While we welcome the Government’s housing fund for enabling infrastructure investment in new developments, this is nowhere near enough to help deliver on Australia’s ambitious national housing targets.”

“Preparing new land releases will cost billions of dollars, with much of the pressure falling on a small number of councils that will be expected to take on the majority of new housing.

“While we desperately need more affordable housing, this has to be supported by local infrastructure and services that will enable healthy and connected communities, especially in regional and remote areas.

“This means we need more swimming pools to provide relief on hot days, more libraries to run community programs and more bike paths for active transport and better environmental outcomes.

“Developer contributions are vital to building this infrastructure, but we also want to see the Housing Support Program expanded by $250 million to better support councils to build the facilities our communities need.

“Up-front funding for community infrastructure is a matter of intergenerational equity.  We have to address this issue now before we build 1.2 million new homes, as it will only get more expensive to retrofit solutions,” she said.

NGAA Chair Cr Matthew Deeth said, “Our fast-growing outer metropolitan cities and suburbs have been shouldering the housing development burden for decades.

“Our communities – making up around one-fifth of Australia’s population – live with infrastructure deficits and challenges accessing employment, health care and community facilities other parts of the country take for granted.

“It is important we learn from the past and establish effective partnerships and funding models involving all levels of government if we genuinely care about the future of our growing communities.”

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) CEO, Wendy Hayhurst said new homes and access to community infrastructure were crucial.

“We’ve recently done research that demonstrates the positive health and wellbeing benefits from living near well-designed parks with playgrounds, picnic spaces and cycle paths.”

“Our tenants also need free and low-cost services run out of libraries, health clinics and community centres. These are the services that really allow a community to flourish and they must be robustly funded,” she said.

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