Labor, Libs at odds over housing crisis

Labor has vowed to set up a fund to tackle homelessness and improve housing affordability.
Labor has vowed to set up a fund to tackle homelessness and improve housing affordability.

Federal Labor says Australia is in a housing crisis with a growing number of people finding themselves homeless.

But the government argues it is providing a record level of support.

Labor's Jason Clare said when his party left government it was committed to providing $2 billion a year for social housing and indigenous homelessness.

This would now be about $2.7 billion in today's money adjusting for inflation and population growth.

However, Mr Clare said the Morrison government has only budgeted to spend $1.6 billion.

"That is a massive cut. We have a housing crisis in Australia," Labor's spokesman for housing and homelessness said.

"It's harder to buy a home today than ever before. It's harder to rent than ever before. And there are more homeless Australians than ever before."

He said the biggest group of homeless Australians are women and children, many of them fleeing domestic violence.

Last year 10,000 were turned away from refuges because there wasn't a bed available.

The fastest-growing group of homeless Australians are women aged 55 and over.

Labor has pledged to establish the Housing Australia Future Fund to build social and affordable housing and help reduce homelessness.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the government spent almost $9 billion a year supporting homeless people in need of support, as well as social and affordable housing.

"If we look at the solutions to virtually all of those problems... you need to increase the supply of housing where the issues are most acute," he told the ABC.

He said one of the government's great successes was setting up the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, which had provided 13,000 new dwellings.

Mr Sukkar rejected Mr Clare's figure of $1.6 billion, which related to a federal-state housing and homelessness agreement.

"In addition to homelessness, you have to look at the entire housing spectrum," he said.

Australian Associated Press