The number of households eligible for social housing in Tasmania could be up to 598 per cent higher than waiting lists suggest according to new research released today by Compass Housing Services.
The discussion paper, Estimating Current and Future Demand for Social Housing Assistance, uses census data to show the true extent of existing social housing demand in Australia and models the potential future demand that could be created by shifts in the labour market as a result of automation and artificial intelligence.
The paper’s author, Martin Kennedy, joins Dave on weekend wondering to explore the results which are deeply concerning and a stark warning to governments already dealing with a significant backlog of applications.
Mr Kennedy said there are currently more than 3,200 households on the waiting list for social housing in Tasmania. This is equivalent to 24 per cent of the total number of social housing dwellings.
“Income and asset data from the last census suggest that there are an additional 19,000 households eligible for social housing who have, as yet, chosen not to apply,” Mr Kennedy said.
“If every household in Tasmania who met the eligibility criteria for social housing decided to apply, waiting lists would increase by 598 per cent – the highest increase of any Australian state,” he said.
The number of households eligible for social housing but not currently living in it, is equivalent to approximately 41 per cent of all renting households in Tasmania. In Hobart the figure is 36 per cent. Across the rest of the state it’s 46 per cent.
The 2019-2023 Tasmania Affordable Housing Action Plan proposes to deliver just 607 new social housing dwellings – enough to house approximately 18 percent of the current waiting list.
Mr Kennedy said the shortfall could potentially become even worse as a wave of automation and artificial intelligence use, which some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, washes through the economy.
“This has the potential to add to social housing demand by displacing some workers and eroding the incomes of others.”
He said these kinds of structural changes to the economy can leave affected workers struggling to re-enter the workforce. As many as 20 per cent could remain out of work three years later. Those that do re-enter the workforce generally experience declines in wages of between 10 to 20 percent.
Depending on the proportion of the low to moderate income workforce that is ultimately impacted by automation, the new research estimates there are currently between 850 and 1,770 low income households in Tasmania not currently eligible for social housing that would become so if they experienced a 10 per cent decline in household income.
If impacted households experienced a decline in household income equivalent to 20 per cent of current household income, the number of households who would become eligible for social housing could increase to anywhere between 1,380 and 2,870.
The report makes six recommendations including increasing the supply of social and affordable housing, stronger protections for private renters, stricter residential mortgage lending, and more effective re-skilling and transition programs for displaced workers.
Compass Housing is an Australian based not-for-profit, community housing provider. Mr Kennedy is also the author of Compass Housing’s Affordable Income Housing Gap report, released last year which revealed the shocking gap between the incomes of typical renting households and the incomes required to avoid housing stress in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.