FEDERAL and State governments will develop a national affordable housing policy amid fears a whole generation of young Australians may be locked out of the housing market.
Housing, planning and local government ministers met in Melbourne today and agreed to begin work on the strategy, South Australian Housing Minister Jay Weatherill said.
"Today's decision is a significant outcome because the Commonwealth holds so many levers in contributing to housing affordability," Mr Weatherill said after putting the proposal on the agenda.
"We acknowledge all states and territories are working on their own affordable housing initiatives and that's why we united today in our push for a national agreement."
Without a national plan, Mr Weatherill said a whole generation of young Australians was at risk of being forever locked out of the market.
"The great Australian dream of owning your own home is slipping through the fingers of too many people," he said.
"With high house prices, many young people just can't afford to get into the market.
"If they go to university they get saddled with high HECS debts which are already taking nearly seven years to pay off and those debts are expected to get bigger.
"If they go straight to the workforce, they often get low paid and increasingly casualised jobs with no security."
A coalition of housing industry groups also called for a national plan today and urged federal, state and local governments to invest at least $2 billion in affordable housing.
"The recent cooling in the housing market has done little to reverse the collapse in affordability," Housing Industry Association managing director Ron Silberberg said.
"A year after the boom ended, first home buyers are still struggling to enter the market and many households are in mortgage stress."
Mr Weatherill said a national affordable housing agreement would promote an integrated and long-term vision for housing, providing more funds to help struggling tenants or young people burdened by debt.
"I'm pleased we've achieved agreement from the federal government to examine a national framework, which could do a lot to help a generation get back into the housing market," he said.
Source: 4/8/2005 http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au...5E1702,00.html