Australian local governments and affordable housing: Challenges and possibilities

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Economic and Labour Relations Review, 2020, 31 (1), pp. 14 - 33
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2019. For an increasing proportion of Australian households, the Australian dream of home ownership is no longer an option. Neoliberal housing policy and the financialisation of housing has resulted in a housing affordability crisis. Historically, Australian housing policy has afforded only a limited role to local government. This article analyses the results of a nation-wide survey of Australian local governments’ perceptions of housing affordability in their local government area, the possibilities for their meaningful intervention, the challenges they face, the role of councillors and councils’ perceptions of what levels of government should take responsibility for housing. Almost all of the respondents from Sydney and Melbourne councils were clear that there is a housing affordability crisis in their local government area. We apply a framework analysing housing policy in the context of neoliberalism and the related financialisation of housing in order to analyse the housing affordability crisis in Sydney and Melbourne. We conclude that in order to begin resolving the housing crisis in Australia’s two largest cities there has to be an increasing role for local government, a substantial increase in the building of social and affordable housing and a rollback of policies that encourage residential property speculation. JEL Codes: R31, R21.
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