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Research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) consistently shows that regardless of which funding or financing model is used to provide social housing, there is a gap between what it costs to build and manage social housing and the amount low-income tenants can afford to pay to live in it.

While rent subsidies and assistance help many low-income tenants, they do not impact the overall lack of supply of housing. Addressing this deficit will call for the construction of some 730,000 new social dwellings across Australia over the next 20 years.

“There is genuine need for large-scale investment in affordable housing to deliver the supply required into the future,” AHURI executive director Dr Michael Fotheringham said.

“There are key roles to play for developers, financiers and planners, as well as community housing providers and government.”

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) launched in 2018 to provide loans, grants and investments that complement, leverage and support commonwealth, state and territory activities related to the creation of housing. 

At this year’s National Housing Conference — the largest gathering of those working with social and affordable housing — a panel will revisit the NHFIC one year on: is it the silver bullet to financing affordable housing or is it just one piece of a yet to be completed financing and funding puzzle?

“Absolutely lower cost debt plays a key part in the delivery of new supply of affordable housing,” Hume Community Housing chief executive Nicola Lemon said.

Hume Community Housing is the first organisation to be approved for a NHFIC loan.

“Our partnership with NHFIC and its investors has already delivered great outcomes, but it is not the end game. 

“The end game is that affordable housing is fully established as a pure standalone asset class, that attracts capital and institutional investment that can provide yield returns aligned with that of infrastructure investments. 

“There is no silver bullet and for this to occur a range of subsidy, tax and policy settings need to be reconsidered at all levels of government.

“The CHP sector is ready to work with investors, developers and governments to ensure the settings are right to deliver much needed social and affordable homes now and in to the future.”

The CEO of NHFIC will be joined by ANZ, who helped finance the first bond, Hume Housing and another community housing provider who have received loans through NHFIC’s first funding round to develop much-needed affordable housing.

Cross-sectoral communications and partnerships have been heralded as the key to success in such projects.

A dynamic line up will come together for the National Housing Conference’s major session Dollars to Dwellings: Financing affordable housing. 

Read more and view the full program here.