Poverty and Australian Housing: Findings from an Investigative Panel

Authors: Edgar Liu, Kylie Valentine, Deborah Batterham, Wendy Stone, Chris Martin, Sharon Parkinson & Danielle Hynes

This research investigates the key links between housing and poverty. Its purpose is to draw together different dimensions of the relationships between housing costs and poverty, including policy settings, tax and transfer systems, housing assistance and place-based dimensions and individual capabilities.

The causal relationships between housing and poverty are complicated. Housing costs commonly comprise the largest share of living costs and can increase the risk of poverty. Insecurity caused by excessive housing costs relative to income over extended periods of time can lead to entrenched poverty that can be hard to escape.

Reconceptualising poverty creates opportunities for targeted housing policy towards social goals. First, poverty should be identified as the consequence of policies and systems decision making. Second, poverty alleviation should be the responsibility of institutions of society acting in partnership with individuals experiencing poverty. It should not be placed upon individuals alone.

Seeing housing as a basic right, and of the need for a universal approach to housing provision, is necessary for poverty eradication. Both shelter and non-shelter housing outcomes need to be understood as valuable to society. This perspective aligns well with housing being reframed and understood as both essential infrastructure and an infrastructure of care.

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