HAFF must be nimble to combat chronic housing shortages

In its evidence at the Senate Economics Legislation Committee public hearing: Inquiry into the Housing Australia Future Fund package of bills 2023, UDIA National reinforced its support for the Housing Affordability Future Fund (HAFF) and emphasised the need for a flexible, market nimble, investment framework with all housing providers working together to combat the chronic shortage of Affordable Housing in Australia over the next 10-25 years.

The HAFF is a housing initiative for the future and its investment framework needs to be flexible, and have a long-term focus, to tackle the some 45,000 affordable and social dwellings the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) estimates we need each year across Australia,” said Max Shifman, UDIA National President.

The Federal Government’s HAFF and Housing Accord targets the delivery of 50,000 affordable and social dwellings. Any long-term strategy to combat housing shortages will need the Government and Community Housing Providers (CHPS) to more than double their annual delivery of affordable housing.

10,000 additional affordable and social houses are required each year over the next five years, in addition to the 8,500 houses we currently build, just to keep up with existing demand. This is before any progress is made to address the deep historical shortages (numbering in the hundreds of thousands of homes).

The lack of housing supply must be tackled simultaneously with the HAFF, or escalating costs and lack of supply will eviscerate any gains made.

“Once the HAFF bill is passed, formulating the investment framework should state the outcomes government seeks, but also maintain flexibility on how those objectives are achieved to avoid inadvertently preventing viable delivery options in the future,” said Mr Shifman.

Complicating the challenge for the HAFF is the continued decline in new housing supply, caused by a combination of a lack of development ready land, clogged planning systems, and cost inflation.

“We must address the lack of enabling infrastructure, ever increasing cost imposts, and inefficient planning processes to free up the 60% of zoned housing that is held back due to relatively straightforward issues. Our industry is keen to keep working with our political leaders to bolster housing supply and affordability across the spectrum,” said Maxwell Shifman.