Q Shelter proposes three important elements to a guiding framework for solutions to housing needs and homelessness:
- Building on the Queensland Housing Summit, a preventative approach to housing supply challenges through longer-term planning inclusive of housing supply targets and other housing system reforms. This must include specific targets for social and affordable housing products affordable to people on the lowest 40% of the income spectrum.
- Upstream, preventative programs of intensive support to reduce the number of children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and the number of children who emerge from childhood vulnerable to long-term homelessness
- A broader poverty reduction framework that leverages national and state-level measures already in place to achieve a more intentional and integrated approach to poverty reduction which includes measures to address housing need and homelessness.
A healthy housing system
The Queensland Housing Summit has identified measures intended to contribute to the health of the whole housing system. Q Shelter has previously proposed and continues to endorse systemic measures including:
- A new housing entity in Queensland like Homes Victoria to lead whole-of-housing system reforms and activities.
- Accelerated planning system reforms that achieve inclusionary zoning.
- Targets for all housing based on current and projected population needs to be agreed as part of the Queensland Housing Round Table including specific annual targets for social and affordable housing.
- Planning schemes that enable housing targets to be met as part of local government housing action plans.
- Strategic identification of land supply across all levels of Government, church sector, not for profit sector and private sector.
- Monitoring and evaluation framework to measure housing supply targets across all markets and tenures.
- Fast tracking of immediate housing solutions through land identification combined with the use of multiple suppliers delivering homes using new, efficient and cost-effective technologies.
- Rental reforms that improve security of tenure and that better regulate rental charges.
- A restructured rental market to reduce the over-reliance on individual investors in favour of build-to-rent models with community housing providers as key delivery agencies.
- Policy reforms to improve the operating environment of community housing providers in Queensland.
- A preventative approach to averting negative housing impacts caused by Brisbane 2032.
In relation to community housing provision, the following are emphasised as creating a more favourable context for optimal uptake and State and Federal government funding for growth in social and affordable housing:
- Accelerated policy reforms to strengthen and grow the Queensland community housing industry including a renewed Master Agreement and certainty on insurance, rent settings, and growth plan requirements.
- An agreed definition of affordable housing across all State Agencies to deliver housing that costs no more than 30% of income for households in the lowest 40% of the income spectrum.
- Transparent data on need and demand to accurately guide growth plans.
- Industry and Government urgently convene to design a pathway and proposal to ensure Queensland receives growth funding which will flow from Federal Government initiatives, particularly in the context that net migration to Queensland is greater than for any other State.
- Further expansion of the HIF to $3 Billion from 2024-2025 to enable social, affordable, and other build-to-rent housing options led by CHPs including mandatory involvement of CHPs in the delivery of social and affordable housing products.
- Consideration of stock management transfers, and title transfers or long-term leases (Homes Victoria has issued ground leases for 40 years for the development of social and affordable housing) to community housing providers to improve opportunities to leverage debt-finance for housing growth. (Q Shelter engaged an economist to consider the impact that stock management and modest title transfers combined with capital funding might make. Summary information is available in Appendix 3). In the UK, the combination of private finance, government grants and planning mechanisms have achieved the delivery of 190,000 affordable homes to rent (see Benedict R, et al, 2022, Private sector involvement in social and affordable housing, AHURI Final Report No. 388, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited).
- Targeting of at least 30% of all capital funding and the HIF to Indigenous Community Housing Organisations.
- Provide capacity support to establish a Queensland Housing Trust so that capital for grants and social impact bonds are generated from social procurement and from ESG impact contributions from the private sector. This could also be a vehicle to capture community contributions.
- Additionally, Q Shelter proposes the development of an Industry Road Map for Community Housing articulating a strategic vision, objectives, outcomes, impact, and measures. This will include Indigenous Community Housing Organisations and identify measures that increase housing supply that is owned and managed by ICHOs for the purpose of housing First Nations Queenslanders.
Prevention in the early years
Q Shelter’s last policy and investment submission in 2022 included a rationale for greater investment in intensive support from pregnancy and very early childhood to prevent disadvantage and exposure to adverse childhood experiences. Similarly, we sought to address exposure to adverse events in early childhood in our input to the Mental Health Select Committee.
Q Shelter has articulated this proposal because homelessness during childhood contributes to adverse experiences and therefore trauma. There is also evidence that children exposed to a wider range of adverse childhood experiences are vulnerable to homelessness in later life.
While not all homelessness is caused or influenced by adverse childhood experiences, the profile of people who have experienced significant, multiple, and enduring adverse experiences is very complex forcing greater reliance on later-life support services, and more costly subsidised housing. Q Shelter’s interest in these types of programs is intended to encourage policy and investment settings that are less crisis focussed, and that intend to reduce the pipeline of people on a trajectory toward housing insecurity and homelessness from birth or early childhood. The rationale for this is to reduce the level of adversity impacting children and their families. This is intended to create generational change because the impacts of adversity are prevented and children can access health services, and engage in education, training, and community life.
Q Shelter has written a more in-depth analysis of the rationale for this type of approach in Queensland proposing this approach would contribute positively to crime reduction and improve the safety of children, young people, and the broader community.
Poverty reduction framework
Q Shelter is broadening its approach to propose that solutions to housing needs and homelessness are best located within a poverty reduction strategy. There is currently a Senate Inquiry into The Extent and Nature of Poverty in Australia due to report in October 2023. Q Shelter has participated in the inquiry making proposals that the Federal Government integrate various existing measures intended to address poverty and disadvantage into a national strategy. As in Canada, addressing housing needs and homelessness would be a central feature.
This submission showcases examples from Canada and Ireland where a national approach to poverty reduction includes identification of existing levers combined with enhanced measures that deploy all levels of Government, community services and the private sector. These integrated approaches to poverty reduction include measures to address housing needs and homelessness.
Locating responses to housing needs and homelessness within a poverty reduction framework potentially integrates important reinforcing interventions that support deeper and more sustainable changes. The reinforcing elements would include:
- Income support.
- Intensive early support to families and children preventing exposure to adverse events.
- Education including early learning and childcare.
- Community involvement and citizen participation.
- Social and recreational opportunities including participation in grass-roots civil society organisations such as porting clubs, play groups, community centres and similar.
- Health care.
- Food security.
- Affordable energy.
- Transport including fuel security.
- Digital inclusion.
Poverty Reduction Strategy Canada
Consultation on a poverty reduction strategy in Canada commenced in 2016, culminating in the launch in 2018. By June 2019, The Poverty Reduction Act became law, setting targets, defining the poverty line, and enshrining a National Advisory Council on poverty (see Implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy: a timeline). It established monitoring and evaluation inclusive of data dashboards across several indicators of disadvantage, poverty, and exclusion. The system of Government in Canada is comparable to Australia with three tiers of Government reflecting similar responsibilities to those tiers of Government in Australia.
Canada’s approach to poverty reduction involves identified roles for State/provincial-level Government agencies. The Strategy recognises the important role that all levels of Government, other entities, and the private sector must play for a strategy to be effective.
Some provincial governments in Canada also have poverty reduction strategies (such as British Columbia) (see Together BC: British Columbia’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy).
Canada’s poverty rate was almost halved between 2018 and 2020 which may have been influenced by COVID-19 relief measures. Monitoring sub-measures and the trajectory of population groups has helped Canada to define specific interventions and investments that are more targeted.
Poverty reduction in Ireland
The Republic of Ireland adopted a poverty reduction framework in 1997 (see Government of Ireland, 2022, Social Inclusion Division). This initiative was intended to provide a strategic framework in which a range of measures were coordinated to achieve poverty reduction targets. Ireland defined poverty as the convergence between income level (below 60% of the median income people are identified as being at risk of poverty) and being unable to afford at least two out of 11 identified basic living items (see Research Office Legislative Council Secretariat, 2022, Poverty reduction targets in Ireland and Canada) (deprivation). People whose situation overlaps between these two elements are considered consistently in poverty. Between 2013-2021, the consistent poverty rate fell from 9 per cent to 4 per cent. Ireland sets targets and monitors performance inclusive of the performance of several sub-targets relating to indicators such as school education completion rates and unemployment rates.
The Republic of Ireland has more recently developed a Social Inclusion Road Map 2020-2025. This Roadmap seeks to address a range of well-being domains including:
- Employment programs.
- Improvements to work conditions including pay.
- Income security for older people.
- Support for families.
- Improved community participation.
- Digital inclusion strategies.
- Universal healthcare.
- Prevention of food and fuel poverty.
- A range of measures relating to housing supply, affordability, and security of tenure.
The Framework defines poverty and social exclusion, sets policy targets, and has established governance arrangements.
The combination of intensive, evidence-based approaches to preventing childhood trauma and deprivation to reduce future homelessness with measures to increase housing system supply to meet population needs will significantly reduce homelessness and housing need within a generation.
Q Shelter is proposing that these integrated approaches to preventing complex homelessness while increasing supply to achieve a healthy housing system are located within a poverty reduction framework adopted at the National and State levels. As the National Government is examining poverty, there is an opportunity to shape a nationally coordinated approach that addresses social and economic inclusion integrated with specific measures for critical challenges such as housing need and homelessness. If the States also adopted a planned approach to poverty reduction related to their core responsibilities, the impact of housing measures at both the State and National levels would arguably be greater because other systemic barriers to full social and economic participation will be better addressed.