DISCUSSION POINT: The other side to a hot property.
DISCUSSION POINT: The other side to a hot property. juliannafunk

Housing is a human right that must be reflected in law

FOR decades the story of soaring house prices and negative gearing has been a regular part of the Australian social landscape.

It continues to be a hot topic, but in the last couple of years another type of housing story, the polar opposite to the investment narrative, has entered the conversation, it's called affordable housing.

As Australian public housing lists soar and the homeless take the spotlight with a virtual camp city set up at Flinders St train station, Melbourne, the issue of affordable housing has fast gained a number one position on the government agenda.

This month Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the government's proposal for a new model of affordable housing finance, a finance scheme aimed to make money more freely available for developers of affordable housing. The financial recommendation came from the 2016 federal Affordable Housing Working group.

At the same time of Treasurer Morrison's announcement, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha presented her report: The Financialisation of Housing. The report reveals that Australia's housing issues is not unique, instead it matches a global trend that has transformed housing from a social habitat to a monetary investment.

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Farha argued that housing should be viewed in terms of human dignity and security, as a lived experience, as a human right."

"Only once housing is understood as a human right and reflected as such in both policy and law will we make real and significant change," she said. said

Farha said the transformation had its roots in the GFC, a time when housing changed from a place to build a home to a financial commodity - "a vehicle for wealth and investment rather than a home."

She illustrated the claim with evidence of the rising phenomena of empty houses, houses that have no social values and are simply left to rise in price.

She terms it, "dehumanised housing".

Farha quotes a report that claims there are 82,000 or (or one fifth) of investor owned units in Melbourne are unoccupied.

But it's not just Melbourne, worldwide scenarios include the London boroughs of Chelsea and Kensington, where the number of vacant units increased by 40% between 2013-14).

Ultimately, she reports that the vast amounts of wealth made from housing has left governments accountable to investors rather than their obligation of human rights and she is calling for Government to make housing and people first, rather than investment markets.

  • National Shelter (Australia) partnered with CHOICE and the National Association of Tenants' Organisations tocallfor governments to prioritise rental security and quality issues, alongside housing affordability, as a national study reveals widespread fear and discrimination faced by thousands of Australians.

The report was released in February 2017 and lmillions of people engaged with the story via Twitter, newsites, and broadcast media stories. The hashtag #RentInOz trended on Twitter. With one third of Australain households renting, rental \affordability, accessibility and quality are growing concerns.

  • National Shelter is a non-government peak organisation that aims to improve housing access, affordability, appropriateness, safety and security for people on low incomes.

Since 1976, National Shelter has worked towards this goal by influencing government policy and action, and by raising public awareness about housing issues. National Shelter's aim is to work towards every Australian having access to housing.

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