Business Daily Media

that's a housing problem much bigger than a few high-profile apartment blocks

  • Written by Andrew Beer, Dean, Research and Innovation, University of South Australia

Australia’s biggest city is abuzz with news of yet another housing development declared unsafe for human habitation. This time it is apartments built on a toxic dump[1] the local council fears was not properly cleaned up.

In the past 12 months three other significant Sydney developments have all been evacuated due to major building defects. The plight of residents forced from their homes has focused national attention on issues to do with shoddy apartment construction, such as poor regulation and lax enforcement.

Read more: Buck-passing on apartment building safety leaves residents at risk[2]

What gets less media attention is a greater systemic problem: the fact that hundreds of thousands of Australians are forced into inadequate or unhealthy housing by high housing costs. Thousands are evicted by landlords wanting higher rents. Some end up homeless.

These problems are underlined by the latest data on housing occupancy and costs[3] from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Growing disparities

The figures show Australia has an excess of housing on average, but not enough for those in the greatest need.

Across Australia, an estimated 116,000 people are homeless while more than 300,000 households would like a home with an extra bedroom. Yet there are about 12 million empty bedrooms. One-third of all Australian homes have one unused bedroom. Another third have two, and 13% have three or more.

As you might expect, home owners are more likely to have an excess of bedrooms, while renters are more likely to need more space – and we’re increasingly a nation of renters than owners. Now 32% of households rent, compared with 27% a decade ago.

The main reason for all of this, unsurprisingly, is escalating housing prices.

After taking account of inflation, housing costs over the past decade increased 40% for home owners with a mortgage, but more than 50% for renters (both public housing and private).

Over the years governments have hatched schemes to address the issue of affordability, but the ABS data indicates such policies have made no real difference.

Across the board, these rising housing costs have bitten hardest on those with low incomes, as shown below. This chart tells us renters fare worse than home buyers and owners – and the gap is getting greater.

It’s a catch-22. Because homes cost so much to buy, you need a bigger deposit to get a mortgage. Because rents are so high, you cannot save enough for a deposit. It’s condemning whole generations to remain as tenants.

Unhealthy homes

The impacts of high housing costs affect households in many ways – from long-term financial stability to health.

Our research[4], using the household, income and labour data[5] collected by the Melbourne Institute, for example, suggests 2.5 million Australians (about 10% of the population) live in homes harmful to their well-being and health.

Is a slowly accumulating impact. Usually there isn’t one part of housing that erodes health. It involves high housing costs hurting mental health as individuals struggle over years to pay their bills. It might be combined with living in, say, a damp and mouldy house that makes asthma or respiratory infections more likely. It includes living in a home that isn’t secure or distant to services such as a doctor.

Unhealthy housing doesn’t affect people at random: those most affected tend to be the sickest, poorest and most vulnerable.

As a nation we are right to sympathise with those forced out of their homes by circumstances beyond their control. But there’s something perverse if the attention only goes to cases affecting middle-class Australians, to affluent apartment developments and owners worried about their investments.

There’s a more fundamental housing problem in Australia. It is a problem of our own making, and we created it by thinking too much about rising house prices and the wealth they generated for owners. Booming housing markets have had a huge down side also. It has meant some people have gone without proper food or heating or medicines to keep a roof over their head.

Read more: How the housing boom has driven rising inequality[6]

Here we have what economists call a market failure. It can only be fixed by acknowledging it. Earlier generations of policy makers – including the Productivity Commission’s predecessor, the Industry Commission – recognised government provision was the most effective way to provide low-cost housing. It’s time our current generation of politicians did the same.

It’s a case of not just individual developments being built on contaminated ground, but an entire system.

References

  1. ^ a toxic dump (www.smh.com.au)
  2. ^ Buck-passing on apartment building safety leaves residents at risk (theconversation.com)
  3. ^ housing occupancy and costs (www.abs.gov.au)
  4. ^ esearch (doi.org)
  5. ^ household, income and labour data (melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au)
  6. ^ How the housing boom has driven rising inequality (theconversation.com)

Authors: Andrew Beer, Dean, Research and Innovation, University of South Australia

Read more http://theconversation.com/dangerous-to-human-health-thats-a-housing-problem-much-bigger-than-a-few-high-profile-apartment-blocks-120656

Business Today

1 in 6 US kids are in families below the poverty line

The official child poverty rate is about the same today as in 1967.More Than Words Photography by Alisa Brouwer/Moment Open via Getty ImagesCC BY-NDIn the United States, children are more likely to experience poverty than people o...

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make the company one of the largest buyers of ...

What you need to know about the Defense Production Act – the 1950s law Biden invoked to try to end the baby formula shortage

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of baby formula. AP Photo/David J. PhillipU.S. President Joe Biden on May 18, 2022, announced he is invoking the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of ...

Baby formula industry was primed for disaster long before key factory closed down

Cities are trying to address the baby formula shortage with community drives.AP Photo/David J. PhillipThe conditions that led to a shortage of baby formula were set in motion long before the February 2022 closure of the Similac fa...

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual workspace more comfortable. Employees are ...

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’s sovereign capabilities toward in-space...

Business Daily Media Business Development

the supermarket business model is too fragile to shield customers from rising food prices

Shutterstock/photocriticalFood prices, like almost everything else, are rising fast. There have recently been warnings of “apocalyptic” costs, and a declaration that the “e...

Lisa Jack, Professor of Accounting, University of Portsmouth - avatar Lisa Jack, Professor of Accounting, University of Portsmouth

How soaring inflation can be particularly harmful for young people

Shutterstock/SpeedKingzInflation rates have become almost impossible to ignore. In the UK, inflation has soared in recent months, now reaching 9% – the highest rate for 40 years. The B...

Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, Associate Professor in Economics, University of East London - avatar Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, Associate Professor in Economics, University of East London

it won't control interest rates and inequality will widen

The UK local elections in May saw gains for nationalists in Scotland and Northern Ireland, raising the prospect of increased debates over the future make-up of the country. In Scotland, Firs...

Eoin McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University College Cork - avatar Eoin McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University College Cork

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make t...

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual wo...

David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra - avatar David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’...

Business Daily Media - avatar Business Daily Media



NewsServices.com

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion