With winter upon us, the significance of a safe, warm and stable home to lay your head at night really hits home.
Shelter Tasmania, in unison with the peaks network and the broader community services industry, continue to call on the government to set more ambitious housing targets to bring online much-needed supply for the thousands of Tasmanians currently on the outer.
I found it distressing to learn that one in two Tasmanian households are in mortgage stress. This immense strain on family budgets is simply unsustainable, the evidence of which continues to be borne out with more Tasmanian families, many for the first time, joining the queues for food relief and financial support services.
The evidence of the need for more social and affordable housing is clear as day. You only have to look as far as the priority social housing wait list or walk the city streets at dusk to know the problem is as bad as it has ever been.
Building more houses is the main game but in addition to boosting supply there are a number of household energy efficiency initiatives which, should the State Government choose to invest, would reduce energy bills and greatly improve the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians by enabling them to stay warm this winter.
In Tasmania, around 59,000 households are experiencing energy poverty. Living in energy poverty forces low income households to restrict energy consumption by avoiding basic activities like showering and using heaters, as well as resulting in high proportions of income being spent on energy and the inability to pay other bills.
As outlined in TasCOSS’s 2021/22 TasCOSS Budget Priorities Statement, an investment in energy efficient upgrades for Tasmanians living on low incomes also has the flow on effect of creating jobs, stimulating our economy in the post-COVID-19 recovery, lowering emissions and contributing to the state’s renewable energy goals.
To this end, Healthy Homes for Renters is a new national campaign which calls on state and territory governments to commit this year to the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties. You can check out the Healthy Homes for Renters website for more information.
In a rich society, we should not accept that Tasmanians are forced to live in unfit, cold and unaffordable housing. As winter sets in, we can and must strive to do more to support Tasmanians with housing solutions.