Peak bodies call out government on blaming migration for the rental calamity

January 12, 2024 BY

More than 40 housing, homelessness and community services organisations have written to the Prime Minister and opposition leader, expressing concern that migration is being blamed as the primary reason for the housing crisis

The fallout from the rental crisis continues, with more housing organisations calling out the government on claims that immigration has been a major contributor to the current rental shortage.

More than 40 housing, homelessness and community services organisations have written to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, expressing concern that migrant communities are being scapegoated as the primary reason for the housing crisis.

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize, who co-ordinated the letter, said it was nonsense to blame overseas migration as a primary driver of a housing crisis that has been decades in the making.

“During the COVID era which had lower migration, rents actually increased more than they did in the preceding decade,” she said.

The letter references fresh analysis of SQM statistics, which show national asking rents rose $84 extra per week between the closure of Australia’s borders on March 2020 to February 2022.

This figure is higher than the $69 per week increase in the entire decade prior from March 2010-March 2020.

The organisations voicing their concerns include the Australian Council of Social Service, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia and National Shelter, and all say decades of poor policy choices by successive governments, including the chronic undersupply of social housing and inflationary impacts of investor tax incentives, have fuelled the crisis.

The organisations urge the government and opposition to show leadership in the housing affordability debate and focus on the main drivers.

Ms Azize said migrant communities were being scapegoated for Australia’s housing crisis.

“That rhetoric excuses failed government policies and detracts from the solutions that will fix this national emergency.

“Governments have given handouts to investors, allowed unlimited rent increases, and stopped building homes for the people who need them.

“That’s why housing is so unfair, so unequal and so unaffordable. It’s a distraction to suggest that migrants are to blame.

“Migrants make a valuable contribution to society and fill workforce shortages and they don’t just create demand for housing, they help build the homes we need.”

Ms Aziz said that to make housing affordable again, our leaders must tackle the big drivers of this crisis.

“That means ending the unfair tax policies that push up the cost of housing, and building more social housing.

“The new year brings a renewed chance to end this housing crisis, that can only be done by concentrating on the solutions that will actually fix it.”