Federal budget 2017 measures aim to address housing affordability

BUDGET TALK: Addressing housing affordability was a key issue in this year's budget. (Inset) Housing Trust acting CEO Lindsay Kelly and chairman David Campbell on Wednesday.

BUDGET TALK: Addressing housing affordability was a key issue in this year's budget. (Inset) Housing Trust acting CEO Lindsay Kelly and chairman David Campbell on Wednesday.

Although there were “no silver bullets” to make housing more affordable, a community housing provider believes Treasurer Scott Morrison has provided a number of pieces to the puzzle.

Among the measures outlined in Tuesday night's federal budget was a $1 billion national affordable housing agreement, which will aim to fund the infrastructure needed to speed up supply of housing, and a push for planning reforms at a state level to help that process.

Illawarra first home buyers will be able to voluntarily contribute up to $15,000 per year ($30,000 total) to their superannuation to be set aside for a house deposit.

David Campbell, chairman of Illawarra community housing provider The Housing Trust said the “jury’s out” on the salary sacrificing into superannuation.

READ MORE: First-home buyers get ‘super’ saver scheme in federal budget

“A lot of economists (are) saying that’s not going to necessarily help first home buyers,” he said.

“My interpretation is that generally, the government’s investment in infrastructure in new release areas, releasing additional Commonwealth land to increase supply, is probably going to go the most out of the budget initiatives to support first home buyers.”

Mr Campbell was pleased that developers will be encouraged to provide homes for lower income families in each new development.

“For each new high‐rise or suburb that is created, the developer will need to put aside some of the homes for those most in need,” he said. 

“The proposed South Wollongong Strategy is a great opportunity to deliver inclusionary zoning which accommodates a range of home affordability options.

“Ideally the ownership of these homes will be transferred to community housing providers.”

Meanwhile, in an attempt to encourage elderly Australians to downsize, elderly Australians (65-plus) will be able to contribute up to $300,000 from house sale proceeds to their super at the non-concessional rate from July 1, 2018.

“The incentive for over-65s to downsize and top up their super is welcome, but unless we increase the supply of affordable age-friendly housing, there’ll be nowhere for them to downsize to,” IRT Group chief executive Nieves Murray said.

“The Retirement Living Council has warned the federal and state governments that the current supply of seniors housing will not meet demand by 2025. The incentive announced last night will increase demand, so we now need to work on the supply side.

“It’s clear that housing affordability for older Australians is at crisis point, so we would have liked to see a more comprehensive plan to address this crisis included in the budget.”

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