UTS survey shows affordability on the backburner


A recent University of Technology of Sydney survey has found that while councils may know that housing stock in their communities isn’t affordable, their motivation to tackle the issue is lacking.

The survey results strongly suggest that local governments do not feel they have the capacity to intervene in a meaningful way.

The survey included a range of questions about local governments’ engagement with housing-related activities in their area. We asked about the priority given to housing issues, how important housing is relative to other council issues, and what kinds of policies and initiatives they plan to implement to help resolve the problem.

All 546 local governments in Australia were invited to participate in the survey. We received 213 responses. The majority, 72%, came from non-metropolitan areas (there are a lot more non-metropolitan local governments).

Almost all the metropolitan councils saw housing affordability as an issue. Half saw it as a very substantial or substantial issue. Only 13.5% said it was not an issue.

In contrast, only 26.6% of non-metropolitan councils responded that housing affordability is a substantial or very substantial issue.

Half of the metropolitan councils said only 5% of the housing in their local government area (LGA) was affordable. Three-quarters said 10% or less. Even in the non-metropolitan areas, 43% of councils said only 15% of housing was affordable.

The results suggest that improving housing affordability in a meaningful way is beyond the remit of local government.

Although many councils are well aware that housing affordability is an issue in their area, they feel unable to respond in a meaningful way. An explanation for this is a unanimous view that Australia’s housing affordability problem is beyond the capacity of local governments to resolve. Almost all councils believe the provision of affordable housing is the responsibility of state and/or federal governments.

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