Social Housing Survey

Around 195,000 Australian households are waiting for social housing according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 

The National Social Housing Survey 2018: key results, looks at the experiences of tenants in public housing, community housing, and state owned and managed Indigenous housing (SOMIH) across a range of indicators.1 

Of key concern from the survey results is the decline in the percentage of social housing stock and the increase in the number of people waiting for social housing. However, the report validates the important role of the Community Housing sector in not only the provision of housing, but delivering better outcomes for tenants.

The report noted: “While the number of social housing dwellings has increased over recent years, underpinned by the increasing role of the Community Housing sector over the past decade, social housing has declined as a share of the total Australian housing stock, from 5.1% in 2001 to 4.2% in 2016.”

The report also found that nearly 4 in 10 social housing tenants say their home is not comfortable in the heat or cold.

The waitlist increased by 5,600 households since the previous AIHW Housing assistance in Australia 2018 report, which estimated 189,400 households were awaiting social housing allocation at 30 June 2017.2

The AIHW report comes at a time when Australian voters have expressed the need for the Government to invest in more social and affordable housing.

The Essential Report3 shows two thirds of Australian voters would prefer the Government to invest in more social and community housing to ease rental costs than continue to allow property investors to claim negative gearing tax concessions.

Polling showed that 68% of voters support government investment in social and affordable housing over negative gearing tax breaks for property speculators. 80% of Green voters, 79% of Labor voters and 53% of Coalition voters preferred investment in social housing over continuing with the current negative gearing policies.

In Western Australia the report outlines the following:

Overall satisfaction with services
• A higher proportion of CH tenants in WA were satisfied with the services provided by their housing organisation (85%) than were tenants in PH (76%).
• Dwelling condition was the most likely important factor in tenants’ satisfaction.
• Time spent living in social housing is a factor in tenant satisfaction: those who have lived in social housing for 16 years or more are less likely to be satisfied than those who have lived in it for up to 5 years.
• More than 4 in 10 social housing households (43%) reported that they live with one or more structural problems in their home.
• In CH, 1 in 3 households live with structural problem, in PH it is nearly half of households.

Benefits of living in social housing
• Tenants in social housing in WA pointed out that the major benefit of living in social housing was the feeling of being more settled (92.6%), followed by being able to manage rent better (92.3%) and continuing to be able to live in their area and community (90%).

Satisfaction with amenities
• When asked to identify which amenities meet their needs, tenants in WA most commonly said that the ease of access and entry (92%), privacy of home (86%) and water efficiency (83%) met their needs.
• A lower proportion of social housing tenants in WA have their need for thermal comfort met by their current home (66%), which is particularly low among Indigenous households and households with children.

Satisfaction with location
• Tenants most commonly rated proximity to emergency services, medical services and hospitals, shops and banking and family and friends as being important to their households.

Satisfaction with maintenance services
• In WA, tenants of public housing are fairly satisfied (69%) with day-to-day maintenance services provided by their housing organisation, while more tenants of CH were satisfied (79%) with maintenance services provided to them.

Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA Michelle Mackenzie said currently there are around 14,000 households on the waiting list for public housing across the State and the number are increasing steadily.

“These Reports show the need to facilitate greater investment into social, and in particular community housing, and that voters from all political parties support this investment,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Investment in housing is a no-brainer. It stimulates the economy, creates jobs and is an investment in Australia’s future,” said Michelle. “Having a home enables people to be healthy, and provides the foundation to pursue an education or employment opportunities.”

1 Link 1 Report
2 Link 2 Report 
3 Link 3 Report 


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