Another political housing agreement between the Commonwealth and the state and territory governments came into force this month. The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement is the latest in a 73-year series of such intergovernmental pacts to ensure affordable housing for citizens and to fund services for the homeless. Housing strategies need to address the priority housing policies of the NHHA that are of interest to the state or territory. Among the priority areas for housing: The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), launched on July 1, 2018, allocates about $1.5 billion a year to states and territories to improve Australians` access to safe and affordable housing across the housing spectrum. Compared to the most recent previous agreements, three things are emerging as new or reissued. Yet, at a time of population growth and persistent housing shortages, the Commonwealth`s recent budget promise to maintain its current AUD 1.3 billion contribution to the housing agreement means that there has been no increase in real funding. It is not enough to cover, let alone increase, the costs of current services. Each year, 80,000 clients are supported by NPAH-funded programs to rebuild their lives. Without these programs, many of these clients will not be able to be helped and will remain homeless or become homeless. Annual funding has a significant impact on the ability of services to function effectively and develop a plan. The practice of announcing extensions within a few months of the expiration of the previous iteration of NPAH creates many uncertainties that have a negative effect on those who are homeless or at risk.
The second and arguably the largest set of amendments is accountability. These include an expanded list of performance criteria, the Commonwealth, which adopts a standardized approach to data measurements, and a formal independent review of the agreement by the Productivity Commission, which will be implemented within four years. It replaces the 10-year national agreement on affordable housing and a number of partnerships since 2008 to combat homelessness – the national partnership agreement to combat homelessness. The most recent agreement presents more achievable performance indicators than their predecessors. It also requires states to report on their annual financial contributions, a worthy step forward for transparency.