Apr 10·edited Apr 10Liked by Cameron Murray

Thanks Cam, this historical analysis is extremely valuable for contextualising the whole modern housing debate and showing what can be done. But also more importantly, where the current nonsense direction of existing housing policy leads us... free market slums for the poor! It's pretty appalling how intellectually backward we've gone in 85 years.

What becomes more apparent though is if housing is fundamentally a welfare and redistribution issue, then it does highlight why this needs to be a predominantly Commonwealth funded exercise given its responsibility for welfare more generally. VIC proposed the SAHC, which would've been relatively massive in scale and highly effective. However at best it would've just plugged the leaking bucket by ensuring social housing stopped declining as a proportion of VIC's population growth.

To really make in-roads we'd need a nationally funded model, with pipeline of fast-trackable projects that can be used counter-cyclically.

Can you imagine if the HAFF was set up as a funding body for such projects and capitalised with 10 years funding (e.g. topped up $20bn with an annual withdrawal regardless of earnings of $2bn), and then the RBA's mandate was adjusted so it had the authority as part of its policy tool kit to directly credit reserves to the HAFF and any such additional funding could be directly spent on fast tracking projects?

But this sort of visionary policy would just make too much sense for a country like Australia.

(And yes obviously I note this adds layers of unnecessary bureaucracy when direct budget outlays and fiscal policy managing the whole thing would be far more admin simple and effective, but it seems creating all these cumbersome external institutions is seen as bizarrely necessary)

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Apr 10Liked by Cameron Murray

Wow, the language is so clear, sensible, and responsible. I get the feeling that these people were much more competent at solving these kinds of problems.

Compared with the HAFF language:

> The object of this Act is to provide a funding mechanism to address acute housing needs, including the acute housing needs of: (i) Indigenous persons; and (ii) women; and (iii) children; and (iv) veterans; and to enable support to be provided to increase the availability of social housing and affordable housing.

Whereas nowadays it's all about professing noble intentions, back then it seems they were more interested in solving actual problems.

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Apr 10Liked by Cameron Murray

Hi, thanks for the very interesting article. I am looking at what New York City did for slum eradication and affordable housing and I'm particularly interested in the (limited equity) housing co-operatives. In the 1910s a group of Finns got together and agreed the rent they were paying for substandard housing was more than what it would cost them to build their own housing. They formed a co-operative (like back home in Finland) and built a 16-apartment building. They each paid a deposit which was their member share and made them an owner and then paid a monthly fee (like rent) for the operating costs including the repayment of a mortgage. In this way they were able to take the investor requirements for a return on investment out of the equation and produce simple quality housing for themselves. https://aaww.org/finntown-esther-wang/ The model grew throughout the depression and was then picked up by the labour movement to build affordable housing for workers. I would like to see this model in Australia.

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We can be guaranteed when goverment gets involved, the mission will be more expensive, less efficient, and require many permanent public servants. As a bonus it becomes a political football and excuse generator.

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