Government defends affordable housing cash

Michael Sukkar says an extra $1 billion in housing funds will help more people into their own homes.
Michael Sukkar says an extra $1 billion in housing funds will help more people into their own homes.

About 2500 new affordable homes are expected to be supported through an extra $1 billion outlined in the federal budget.

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation has been handed the funding injection.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said in just two years, the corporation had issued nearly $1.5 billion in bonds.

"The issuance of these bonds has already supported the delivery of more than 2000 new and 6300 existing homes built and maintained by community housing providers," Mr Sukkar told AAP on Wednesday.

He said the government also provided more than $6 billion in rent assistance and support to the states and territories for social housing.

"The Morrison government is committed to doing all we can to help Australians get into a home of their own," he said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will use his budget reply speech on Thursday to outline a plan for a $500 million contribution to fast-track repairs to social housing, with the states and territories asked to chip in a further $500 million.

Mr Albanese said having grown up in public housing with a single mum he understood many people did it tough.

"This investment would be a win-win. It would provide work for local tradies, and fix homes that need to be fixed," Mr Albanese said.

Mr Albanese flagged Labor would propose a comprehensive plan for the repair and construction of social housing before the next election, expected in late 2021.

The Community Housing Industry Association said while the Morrison government's extra $1 billion was welcome, it was not enough on its own to drive substantial new social and affordable housing construction.

The association argued before the budget for a $7.7 billion program to deliver 30,000 high quality energy efficient homes for people in need.

"We musn't forget that before the pandemic there were 116,000 homeless people in Australia and 1.3 million Australians living in poverty simply because they were paying too much on housing," association chief Wendy Hayhurst said.

"Just how many more people will have been added to these totals through the financial hardship brought on by the outbreak is yet to be seen."

Australian Associated Press