On 30 March 2015, the Australian Labor Party released a Discussion Paper on Housing Affordability. The St Vincent de Paul Society has consulted with its members, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute this submission.

Unless we address housing accessibility in Australia we will never succeed in eliminating poverty and homelessness. The St Vincent de Paul Society is heavily involved in providing housing to thousands of Australians, as well as a range of other services that help people avoid homelessness (for example paying for food or bills, providing mental health support, and distributing white goods, clothes, and furnishings). 

Housing is a human right, and one we believe that all levels of government have a duty to try to fulfil for those living in Australia. Many of the programs already in existence are doing great work, helping significant numbers of people as well as save huge amounts of money in the mid-to-long term. However, these programs need their funding extended, and in many cases increased. Commonwealth Rent Assistance must also be increased to help meet escalating housing costs, and negative gearing must be reformed to provide incentives for investment in affordable homes.

Everyone has the right to a place to call home, but the market is failing to deliver for many hundreds of thousands of Australians. Government has a duty to do what markets cannot.