Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 | The Housing Year that was | For policy wonks and acronym aficionados

[And if you're not into policy, bureaucratese, and acronyms, go straight to 2008 The Housing Year that was Down Among the Housos. This excursion into tedium is just to disprove those who claim DH is "all sparkling wit and style, and no substance"].

2008 was the year the new Labor Government began to fulfil its election promise to redress the Howard Liberal government’s shameful neglect of housing over its 11 years in office. Howard and Co left housing to “Market Forces”. We all know about that now, don’t we? During its tenure, the Liberals ripped $3 billion out of social housing and transferred it, via the Commonwealth Rental Assistance Scheme, to the pockets of private landlords. Despite fundamental agreement between a raft of government, industry, and NGO housing experts at the 2008 National Housing Conference that negative gearing is the greatest cause of housing inequity, no government has so far been game to touch the national sacred cowshed.


Tanya Plibersek, universally admired for her commitment to social justice, compassion, intelligence and seeming tireless energy, appointed minister for the new portfolio of Housing.

Oct 14 The federal government announced an increase in First Home Owner Grants to $14,000 for established dwellings and $21,000 for newly-built dwellings

Nov 24 The National Rental Affordability Scheme Act 2008 (NRAS) pass. This scheme aims to increase the supply of affordable rental dwellings by up to 50,000 by 2012. Under the Scheme successful applicants will be eligible to receive a National Rental Incentive for each approved dwelling, on the condition that they are rented to eligible low and moderate income households at 20 per cent below market rates. Second round applications close 27 March 2009

Nov 29 The National Affordable Housing Agreement, (NAHA) replaces the former Commonwealth State Housing Agreement. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG), aka the States, agreed to the … er.. $10 billion agreement, which means they will get $800 million over five years to reform and improve responses to homelessness $1.94 billion over 10 years ($834.6 million over five years) to improve the quality of Indigenous housing and tackle overcrowding in remote communities; and $400 million over two years for social housing as a down payment on longer term reforms.

Dec 21 PM Kevin Rudd and Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek release the White Paper on Homelessness. The government will spend $6.1 billion over 5 years with the aim of halving homelessness (current 105,000 people sleeping out on any given night) by 2020. Amazingly, the NGO's appear to love it.

Lots happening in Housing NSW, which is bristling with new policies and strategies. Following on from 3 rightwing Housing Ministers whose main public pronouncements took the form of tenant bashing, we now have in David Borger, a Minister who actually has an interest in housing, urban design and renewal. Perhaps we can start taking our BMW's out of our closets..

Housing NSW is looking at a raft of you-beaut strategies around things like Common Access (so applicants don't have to traipse around telling their story to a multitude of agencies), a Disability Action Plan, new hi tech service delivery options, improving Aboriginal Service Delivery, a strategy for supporting young people in public housing. The only question is, how long will it all take???

Apr 15 The Housing Amendment (Tenant Fraud) bill passed, making Housing NSW the only government agency in Australia with criminal prosecution powers.

Sep 8 David Borger, former Mayor of Parramatta, replaces Matt Brown as Housing Minister

Sep 10 Ex- Housing Minister Matt Brown resigns in disgrace after only 3 days in his job as Police Minister

Nov 11 The NSW Mini Budget cuts $80 million from Department of Housing over 4 years, which is to be achieved by “improved operational efficiency”. The government chooses to focus on retaining its AAA rating, and breaks its promise on ongoing contributions to Housing NSW working capital requirements. The NSW Council of Social Security NCOSS response to the Mini Budget says:
The Treasurer in introducing the Mini Budget called it “tough, decisive and
detailed”. He did not call it fair. … there is nothing in the Mini Budget
for low income and disadvantaged households.
Dec 4 the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social issues announced an inquiry into homelessness and low-cost rental accommodation.

Dec 5 Housing NSW Annual Report released

Dec 11 Housing NSW releases its new strategy on Environmental Sustainability

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