We support the development of a new agreement that would provide the coordination, resources and political leadership we desperately need to combat non-housing and homelessness. However, we do not believe that the current bill is the basis for this coordinated and coherent national approach. The proposed legislative framework has a number of risks and shortcomings and requires significant revision. While the governments of the federal states and territories are the main culprits for housing and homelessness, the Commonwealth funds housing and homelessness. These include Commonwealth Rent Assistance to help legitimate Australians cover their rental costs, and the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), which began on July 1, 2018. Among its commitments, the Commonwealth is committed to making a financial contribution to the states; Monitoring and evaluation of performance to ensure results are delivered within agreed timeframes; And to highlight the development of improved data and a nationally consistent data set containing state contributions through a working group on housing and homelessness data. Under the NHHA, governments in the federal states and territories must have publicly available housing and homelessness strategies and help improve data collection and reporting in order to secure funding. The NHHA represents $125 million for homeless services in 2019-20. States and territories will provide these funds. The overall objective of the NHHA is to improve housing opportunities for low-income people and to fund services for the homeless. It is a multilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories, which is supported by separate bilateral agreements with each jurisdiction. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the new legislation will improve accountability or transparency in the use of taxpayers` money. As the NHHA is being developed, it requires little more from state and territory governments than an annual housing plan and an annual homeless plan to provide better data and reports on housing-related activities.
The agreement recognizes that the Commonwealth and states have a common interest in improving housing outcomes across the housing spectrum, including outcomes for homeless or threatened homeless people, and that they must cooperate to achieve these results. It also recognizes that there are a number of factors that have an impact beyond the agreement, including taxation and the state, financial sector regulation, immigration, income support and rent subsidies. Australia`s housing and homelessness policy is at a critical point. Housing stress has reached historic highs, there is a severe shortage of social housing and an increasing number of low-income households are being squeezed out of the private rental market. In this context, the federal government is developing a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) that will replace existing national agreements that provide national and regional governments with funding for housing and homelessness programs.