Housing fund must deliver for Tasmania

Residential buildings in Tasmania

*Opinion piece published in The Mercury on 17th March 2023.

Homelessness is growing twice as fast in Tasmania than in any other state and territory. Sign the petition to tell the Housing Minister Tas deserves its fair share of homes.

1,200 new homes for people on low-incomes over five years.

It doesn’t sound like a heap, does it? But it’s better than what we’re currently getting. Under the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund bill, Tassie would be lucky to get 600 homes over five years. 

When we have 4,500 on a waiting list that’s growing every day, that doesn’t really cut the mustard.

That’s why I’ve asked the Government to guarantee a minimum of 1,200 homes for Tassie out of this fund. 

We have 4% of the people with the greatest need of a home here in Tasmania. It seems only fair to ask for 4% of the homes, right?

I’m open to how this happens. The Housing Minister, Julie Collins, can set a baseline that the fund must establish in each state, if she’s worried about favouritism. Or if she’s worried that other states will be upset, she can fund them with grants. 

She’s got to do something though. Getting 600 homes over five years is best case scenario. That’s assuming everything goes right. That’s… optimistic. More likely, we’ll end up with 300 or 400. 

I’ve spent the past few weeks talking to people who’d be impacted by this bill, up and down the chain. 

Someone who’s experienced homelessness told me that, until you’ve been there, you don’t know what it’s like.

So I tried it.

Now, I slept in a car for one night. I knew it was temporary. So my experience was pretty cushy compared to most.

But it was awful. I had three layers of clothing on, jumped at every sound I heard, and couldn’t find a public toilet open past 5pm. 

The Federal Government says this bill is the way to get people out of cars and into homes. But I’m not sure I’m convinced.

The bill caps how much can be spent at $500m a year, until the end of time. $100 bought you plenty more ten years ago than it does right now. You tried hiring a tradie recently? 

So while the price of everything goes up, that $500m doesn’t. On the ground, it’ll buy less, every year. It’ll do less good, every single year, than the year before.

The government’s best case scenario sees the fund build 30,000 homes around the country, but they’re only budgeting $83,300 per house — tops. 

You try building a brand new home for $80,000. See how far that gets you. 

Tasmania gets 600 homes, best case scenario. We end up with far fewer, much more likely. Over five years. Pretty quickly, this bill doesn’t look like it’s going to make a difference.

But it could. If it built 1,200.  

Over to you, Julie.