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posted by janrinok on Tuesday July 09, @01:38PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

There's a new bill before federal parliament calling for housing to be considered a fundamental human right.

The bill, introduced by independent federal parliamentarians Kylea Tink and David Pocock, would require the government to create a 10-year National Housing and Homelessness Plan.

One part of the bill states housing should be considered a fundamental human right for all Australians. Here's how this would work.

Since its election in 2022, the Albanese government has had to fight political battles to pass its housing policies.

This includes the Housing Australia Future Fund: a $10 billion fund to provide an annual $500 million for social and affordable rental housing. It passed the parliament last year.

There's also the "Help to Buy" shared equity scheme. Under this scheme, 10,000 households a year would be eligible for a government equity contribution of up to 40% of the purchase price of a new home. It's yet to pass the parliament.

But many in the community continue to struggle with unaffordable rents, barriers to home ownership and rising rates of homelessness.

Housing and homelessness problems are complex because they crossover different areas of policy and different levels of government. There are many agencies that do housing policy.

But so far, the government has not had a clear plan. Its election promise to develop a National Housing and Homelessness Plan is still under development. And at the moment, it does not appear to be addressing important policy areas like tax and finance.

[...] Tink and Pocock have also taken up our research and turned it into the National Housing and Homelessness Plan Bill.

The bill would require the housing minister of the day to develop and implement a ten year National Housing and Homelessness Plan. This would mean taking a view of housing policy beyond three-year election cycles.

The legislation would also set some basic directions for the government's plan, including "ensuring that everyone in Australia has adequate housing," and "preventing and ending homelessness." This reflects the legislation's human rights-based approach.

The legislation would also require the housing minister to be collaborative and establish some new sources of information and advice for government. This includes a "consumer council," including people with experience of homelessness. This would operate alongside the existing National Housing Supply and Affordability Council: an independent group providing the government with expert advice. The consumer council would be able to escalate matters directly to the minister to ensure it's heard.

The existing government agency Housing Australia would be nominated as the lead agency assisting the minister with the plan. A new government officer, the National Housing and Homelessness Advocate, would independently investigate housing policy issues and monitor the progress against the plan. The housing minister would also be required to periodically report to parliament on progress.

At the end of the ten years, the minister would be required to review and develop a new plan.

Importantly, it would still be for the government of the day to decide what's in the plan. The legislation sets objectives and directions, but not policy details. The legislation does not say, for example, "thou shalt repeal negative gearing"! One government might devise a more market-orientated plan, while another might plan for greater non-market housing provision.

[...] The bill formally recognizes housing as a human right for two reasons.

First, it serves as the constitutional basis for the legislation. The right to adequate housing is a human right under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Australia ratified almost 50 years ago.

This brings it within the parliament's "external affairs" power. The parliament relied on this power and the human right to housing when it passed the original legislation establishing the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (now Housing Australia). Basically, it gives the government the legal authority to make such a plan.

Secondly, an effective plan that's going to work across different policy areas and bring in the range of institutions needs a place to start. Human rights provides a way to organize the policy across all the different branches of government that need to be involved.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday July 09, @10:11PM (7 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday July 09, @10:11PM (#1363593)

    Some numbers I think are relevant here:
    A. Number of homeless people in Australia on any given night, per Australia government study: ~120,000.
    B. Monthly rent in Australia, per analysis by Forbes: $2600.
    C. Number of vacant homes in Australia on any given night, per Australia government study: ~1,000,000.
    D. Cost to house every homeless person in Australia at the average rental price, for 1 year: A x B x 12 = ~$3.6 billion

    That's around half of the money allocated towards alleviating homelessness. And without building anything, and compensating owners at market rates.

    These kinds of numbers regularly show up when you look at the issue. The reason we have homelessness has a lot less to do with a lack of buildings, and more to do with businesses that own buildings trying to hoard them to force rents up.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by ChrisMaple on Wednesday July 10, @05:06AM (5 children)

    by ChrisMaple (6964) on Wednesday July 10, @05:06AM (#1363614)

    I don't know about Australia, but in the U.S. one of the major causes of homelessness is the use of mind-degrading drugs. The drug use goes hand-in-hand with behavior that makes placing them in ordinary homes impossible. They'll trash the home.

    Look at it from an economic standpoint. As a rough rule of thumb, monthly rent for a house is a bit under 1% of the market value of the house. If that $2600/month rent is for a house worth $300,000, and the junkie destroys it within a year, the owner is out $268,800.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Wednesday July 10, @11:12AM (2 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday July 10, @11:12AM (#1363629)

      OK, so which plan do you have for dealing with that: Put them in a rehab facility (which they or their family can't pay for), or are you suggesting that the way you deal with that is to hope that they die as quickly as possible?

      Another factor that I'm reasonably sure you are ignoring: According to a lot of people who study this stuff, a lot of street junkies weren't junkies when they wound up on the street, and turned to drugs as the only available relief for the problems that come from living on the streets.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday July 10, @07:07PM (1 child)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday July 10, @07:07PM (#1363681)

        >the way you deal with that is to hope that they die as quickly as possible?

        This is at the root of a lot of social services arguments. Whether it's housing, healthcare, rehab, disabilities services, special needs education, or whatever - the first question that should be asked and answered is: "are we just going to shoot them to put them out of our misery?" If you answer no, then the vast majority of arguments against funding for services must be directed at making their lives as miserable - and expensive - as possible.

        This is easily explained if those arguing against social services need to have a population they are "better than" so they can feel better about themselves.

        Personally, I'd rather be taken out and shot than tortured and ridiculed for decades, but since we mostly don't go for mercy killings: it's both more humane, and cheaper, to invest in social services at the root causes of need than it is to deny that funding and then deal with the tortured bodies and souls that result from such lack of funding.

        Paying $8000 per year for basic shelter plus $2000 per year for a social worker to come check on a previously homeless person is 10x cheaper than fixing healthcare problems that never would have happened if they had shelter, dealing with them in the criminal justice system because they can't hold a job, and the loss of productivity from them spending all their time dealing with being homeless. So, reducing the above argument further: homeless don't die 10x faster, only about 2x faster than people who have consistent reliable shelter, so overall you might expect to save 80% of the cost of the homeless by simply providing them shelter in the first place.

        https://community.solutions/research-posts/the-costs-and-harms-of-homelessness/ [community.solutions]

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday July 11, @02:33AM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Thursday July 11, @02:33AM (#1363717) Journal

          And thus you've uncovered the basis of "conservative" "thought" on the subject: they will pay more, and actively harm themselves, so long as "those people" suffer more. I am really mystified as to how anyone with two functioning brain cells can't see this about them.

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, @11:55AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, @11:55AM (#1363634)

      I don't know about Australia, but in the U.S. one of the major causes of homelessness is the use of mind-degrading drugs. The drug use goes hand-in-hand with behavior that makes placing them in ordinary homes impossible. They'll trash the home.

      Except that ain't true. Here's some actual data [nationalhomeless.org] for you, rather than what you pulled out of your ass.

      Don't take my word (or the particular study I linked above) for it either. Go and find the data for yourself. And you'll see you're talking out of your ass. And it stinks!

      But I won't hold my breath, as you don't want facts or data, you just want your trained-in prejudices to taken for the laws of nature. Which makes you narrow-minded and foolish enough to spout the ridiculous (and more importantly, unsupported by facts or evidence) bullshit you're going on about.. You probably even believe it. And for that, I pity you.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday July 10, @06:55PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday July 10, @06:55PM (#1363678)

      >in the U.S. one of the major causes of homelessness is the use of mind-degrading drugs.

      Myth: Most people experiencing homelessness have a substance use and/or mental health disorder.

      Fact: While rates of homelessness for people with severe mental health or substance use disorders are high, the majority of people with no home also have no mental health or substance use disorder. Furthermore, the large majority of Americans with mental health or substance use disorders do not experience homelessness, demonstrating that mental health and substance use disorders do not cause homelessness.

      https://www.usich.gov/guidance-reports-data/data-trends [usich.gov]

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday July 10, @07:21PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday July 10, @07:21PM (#1363684)

    >more to do with businesses that own buildings trying to hoard them to force rents up.

    Yep. The free market is anything but free.

    Now, even in your direct rental scheme, toss another 25% on top for social workers to manage homeless placement and the occasional issues that will come up, but that really should be all it takes.

    The trick is in convincing the owners of vacant properties to offer them up for rent, and convincing the homeless to accept placement where properties are available.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]