Ken Marchingo.

A BENDIGO-BASED community housing provider has welcomed Labor’s plan to subsidise the construction of new housing that is offered to renters at 20 per cent less than the market rent.

Haven; Home, Safe chief executive Ken Marchingo said he was in favour of a national approach to improving the affordability of rental housing for low income earners.

“We have been working and lobbying tirelessly for a national approach to rental housing affordability for low-income earners and those locked out of the rental markets,” Mr Marchingo said.

“Housing affordability is not just a problem for individuals. It is a problem for the economy as a whole.

“Poor housing infrastructure reduces labour mobility and productivity, discouraging workers from migrating towards areas of economic development and job growth.”

At its national conference in Adelaide, Labor announced institutional investors would receive long-term subsidies to build new dwellings, on condition they rented them out below market rates.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said a government under his leadership would offer 15-year subsidies – $8500 a year – for investors building new homes provided they charged rent at 20 per cent under the market rate.

The program would cost $6.6 billion over the decade to 2028-29.

Labor’s 10-year plan is to build 250,000 houses and units, including 20,000 dwellings in the first term of a Labor government.

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute estimates a shortfall of more than 525,000 affordable rental properties.

Mr Marchingo urged speed in setting up the scheme and welcomed Labor’s intention in partnering community housing providers with residential housing builders and institutional investors.

“Community Housing organisations like ourselves will play a critical role in this solution, by creating a co-investment/partnership ecosystem that will sit between governments and the private marketplace, ultimately delivering a national housing model supported by three efficient and sustainable housing sector pillars − public, community and private,” he said.

Labor’s latest plan is similar to the National Rental Affordability Scheme but was limited to small investors but which added 37,000 to the national supply.

The Coalition said Labor’s scheme was an attempt to detract attention from its negative gearing reforms which are seen as less palatable by voters.

– Sharon Kemp