Benefit of government investment in social housing worth billions

By Melissa Coade

Monday July 12, 2021

Long-term social housing is key to safety and economic security for women, and good for the economy, new research has found.
Long-term social housing is key to safety and economic security for women, and good for the economy, new research has found. (Aleksandr Volkov/Adobe)

Long-term social housing is key to safety and economic security for women, and good for the economy, new research has found.

A new report commissioned by Everybody’s Home has determined that federal investment in 16,800 social housing units would result in immediate economic benefits worth $15.3 billion and create 47,000 new jobs. 

According to the Equity Economics ‘Nowhere to go’ report, 3.2% of family violence victims receive long-term housing solutions when they decide to flee the danger of their homes. Lack of access to long-term accommodation for these victims is the leading cause for women and children seeking homelessness services, and resulting in over 9000 women becoming homeless each year. 

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Kate Colvin said the report underscored the ‘urgent need’ for federal investment in social housing.

“Victims and survivors of domestic and family violence are often criticised for returning to their abusive partners but an overwhelming majority have to choose between that and homelessness.

“Many simply have nowhere to go,” Colvin said.

“Ideally, women would stay in their homes and perpetrators would be removed during instances of family violence. The harsh reality is that women need to leave to find safety.”

Equity Economics estimates that approximately 7,690 women return violent partners after deciding to leave because of limited housing options. Across Australia in the 2019-20 period, there were 112,509 family and domestic violence related incidents recorded by police. It is believed that this number represents 40% of actual crime levels due to underreporting.

The research also estimates that $257 million in homelessness support services and $122.5 million in domestic violence related support services  could be saved with government funding for the additional social housing units. 

“By building more social housing, the federal government can inject billions of dollars into our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs and prove it is serious about helping victims of domestic and family violence,” Colvin said. 

The report will be submitted to the national Women’s Safety Summit to be held  on 29-30 July.

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