After months of protracted negotiations the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill will finally pass the Senate this week, after the Federal Government today agreed to spend a further $1 billion on public and community housing.
The extra cash injection was made in exchange for the Greens’ supporting the legislation, despite that party initially seeking rent freezes.
The Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) is now a $10 billion package that provides funding for social and affordable rental housing, as well as new homes.
The $1 billion announced today will be invested in the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to support new homes and is in addition to the $3 billion New Homes Bonus announced at National Cabinet just last month.
The Albanese Government today “thanked” the crossbench in the House of Representatives and the Senate, including the Greens for the constructive engagement over a number of months on the legislation.
The Greens Leader Adam Bandt said in exchange for their support, the party had extracted $3 billion from the Labor Government for housing to be directly and immediately spent on housing.
“Labor’s HAPP still won’t fix the housing crisis, but the Greens have secured $3 billion for housing right now – not relying on a gamble on the stock market – and we’ve got to a position where it can pass the Senate,” he said.
Returns from the Housing Australia Future Fund will help deliver the Government’s commitment of 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes in the fund’s first five years.
This includes 4000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence or older women at risk of homelessness.
Fund returns will also deliver the Government’s commitments to help address acute housing needs, including $200 million for the repair, maintenance and improvement of housing in remote Indigenous communities and $100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness.
There will also be $30 million to build housing for veterans who are experiencing homelessness or who are at-risk of homelessness.
The HAFF also includes a $3 billion New Home Bonus performance fund to incentivise the states and territories to build more than their share of 1.2 million homes over five years from July 2024.
Other main initiatives are a new $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator to deliver thousands of new social homes across Australia, A National Housing Accord which includes federal funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024 and increasing the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15 per cent.
There’s also $2 billion for more social and affordable rental housing through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, $1.7 billion one-year extension of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement with states and territories, including a $67.5 million boost to homelessness funding over the next year.
The states and territories have also committed to a series of reforms to give renters a better deal and the Federal Government will boost the supply of rental housing by changing arrangements for investments in built-to-rent accommodation.
Despite not winning its initial demand for rent freezes, Mr Bandt said the Greens were not giving up on the issue.
“Renters have watched on in horror as Labor has refused to cap and freeze soaring rents,” he said.
“I say this to Labor: ‘If you continue to ignore renters, your political pain has just begun. There are several more significant bills on the immediate horizon where the Greens will use our position in balance of power to push the government to address soaring rents with a freeze and a cap on rents’.”