Social Housing Renewal: Threats to Tenant Stability and Security

Social housing has been source of secure, stable tenancies for vulnerable Australian households for decades.

There is ample evidence to show that social housing provides tenants with sense of belonging, security, safety and a bond related to their shared project of ‘getting by’. (1)(2)(3)

In recent years, social housing has provided these benefits to a declining segment of the population. In Australia, the proportion of residents housed in social housing declined from 4.9 per cent in 1981 to 4.4 per cent in 2016. (4) This falls well short of meeting demand: the proportion of households that meet the criteria for eligibility for public housing was 11 per cent in 2011, and those who pay more than 30 per cent of income in rent comprised 8.7 per cent of all households the same year. (5)

Now even those who retain their public housing tenancies are having the security and stability of those tenancies threatened, thanks to government enthusiasm for public housing estate renewal.

Renewal tends to involve the demolition of existing dwellings and their replacement with privately-developed housing, often a mix of social, affordable and private housing. Usually this results in social housing occupying a significantly smaller proportion of total housing on the site, and causes disruption or forces the relocation of incumbent residents.

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