Households responses to declining housing affordability

Emma Baker, Laurence Lester, Andrew Beer, David Bunce, Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning, the University of Adelaide


Report prepared for the National Housing Supply Council

This report was prepared by the University of Adelaide for the National Housing Supply Council. It is not a Treasury publication.

Where possible, the Treasury provides an RTF version of released documents. However, as these documents were prepared for the National Housing Supply Council, which is no longer operational, an RTF version is not available.

The Household Responses to Declining Affordability study investigated individual and household responses to declining housing affordability in Australia. This scoping study highlights current knowledge, existing research gaps and research required to fill those gaps, focusing on:

  • Affordability constraints and trade-offs.
  • Population changes (including household formation patterns) that might occur in response to poor housing affordability.
  • The extent to which the housing needs of the population unable or unwilling to access the private housing market are met in the non-private housing market.

The study examines housing affordability in broad terms, considering housing-related living costs including those costs that are affected by choice of location and tenure type.

It notes that the relationship between housing affordability and household change is uneven and does not occur in isolation. Non-housing factors (such as a loss of employment) can also influence both housing affordability and/or household structures. The study outlines an econometric model to measure changes in the number of individuals in each household due to multiple influences—including housing affordability stress.

Analysis of the extent to which people are accommodated in 'non private' dwellings, using literature and 2006 Census data and other sources, suggests homelessness is a major contributor to the number of persons excluded from the traditional private dwelling market. The study also highlights the need for further analysis of the data and discussion and agreement on definitions to establish the number of individuals living in 'non market' housing.

The ABS has recently developed a statistical definition of homelessness. Details of the definition can be found in Information Paper: A Statistical Definition of Homelessness (cat. no. 4922.0). The Council suggests considering the findings of recently published homelessness estimates from the ABS using 2011 Census data and 2006 Census data and the ABS definitions, alongside the definitions and estimates in this scoping study.