Housing crisis

It was an unprecedented housing crisis that called for an emergency summit, now four years later it’s worse

In 2018, Hobart Showground was at the center of Tasmania’s housing crisis, as people with nowhere to go moved to the site.

“We had been inundated with people who needed accommodation, most of them in tents, recalls Scott Gadd of the Royal Agricultural Show Society.

Shortly after the state elections in March of that year, the then Hodgman government brought together housing stakeholders from across Tasmania for an urgent housing summit.

A series of improvements were promised and some changes were made, such as freeing up public land for new housing.

Scott Gadd says the people staying at the exhibition venues tend to be working “ordinary people”.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Fast forward to 2022, and Mr Gadd thinks the situation has gotten worse.

“We still get as many submissions as we used to, it’s just that we don’t take them all,” Mr Gadd said.

“You would think that in a normal market they would be excellent tenants.”

worse and different

Pattie Chugg of Shelter Tasmania, the leading housing and homelessness body, believes the situation is quite different now than it was in 2018, due to factors such as population growth, a private rental market tense, the impact of short-term accommodation, and rising property prices.

And it’s being felt across the state.

“It was a stressed market, but now it’s super stressed,” Ms Chugg said.

“We really need to step up what we’re doing around housing.”

In March 2018, the median property price in Hobart was around $440,000. In March of this year, it was $753,000.

For sale sign outside Hobart house
House prices in Tasmania since 2018 have skyrocketed.(ABC News: Angela Ross)

The median house price in Tasmania rose nearly 80% in the year to March 2019, to $520,000, well above the $290,000 recorded in March 2018.

Around Tasmania, rents have increased by 11% over the same period and vacancy rates remain extremely low.

In central Hobart, rent costs an average of $600 per week. In Launceston it’s $470, and on the northwest coast it’s $400.

As Colony 47’s Danny Sutton points out, the number of people on the public housing waiting list in Tasmania has also skyrocketed since 2018.

At the time, approximately 3,412 people were on the list. Now it is at 4,431.

“The demand for services has increased, that’s pretty clear in recent years with a very tough housing market,” Mr Sutton said.

Another major housing event

Like the former Prime Minister four years before, the Rockliff government hosted a meeting of a new Housing Reference Group to discuss solutions – similar to the 2018 Housing Summit.

The group of 17 housing stakeholders met on Monday, and the government is optimistic the reference group will help it fill gaps in the housing response.

People sitting at desks face each other in a meeting
Seventeen housing stakeholder groups joined Housing Minister Guy Barnett and Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff for the first meeting of the Tasmanian Housing Reference Group.(ABC News: Rob Reibel)

Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff said it was about planning for the future.

“We will continue to listen and work with the community and key stakeholders as we respond to this request, and will continue to do all we can to ease the housing pressure, statewide.”

Housing Minister Guy Barnett has said a new 20-year housing strategy will be in place by next year.

But Mr Barnett said tougher regulations on short-term accommodation were unlikely.

“We think we have the right balance,” he said.

The government has already announced its intention to build 10,000 social and affordable housing units over the next decade.

“I think everyone agrees we have a very ambitious agenda,” Mr Barnett said.

The state’s opposition is skeptical of the meeting’s real impact, especially without reform to planning laws and short-stay accommodation regulations.

“You have to wonder what another talkfest is going to accomplish when the government has ignored everything the industry and the community have been telling them now for a decade,” said Ella Haddad from Labour.

Job , updated