We need to help turn this mirage back into an Aussie dream

BABY boomers love to wax lyrical about home, whether it’s John Denver’s sentimental croon Take Me Home, Country Roads or Simon and Garfunkel belting out Homeward Bound.

The songs of the ’60s sum up the warm, fuzzy feeling of having a castle of your own, no matter how humble.

But for the kids and grandkids of baby boomers, that dream is practically a mirage as we hurtle towards the worst housing crisis in Australian history. Home ownership in SA is at a 40-year low – and the greatest collapse we are seeing is in the 25 to 34-year-old age bracket.

Adelaide has the tightest rental market in Australia with a vacancy rate between 0.2 and 0.3 per cent. The future of home ownership is grim for anyone under 30 on a low to moderate wage. For young people, the opportunity to get into the market without a financial leg-up from parents is close to zero. There was Gen X, Gen Z and now there’s Gen R – the generation that will be renters, in many cases for life. Almost a third of us.

This crisis is driven by unstable private rental, tax incentives that unduly reward investors, a dwindling supply of public housing, the casualisation of labour and soaring property and private rental prices triggered by excessive demand stimulation by the federal government through Home Builder and the convergence of artificially low interest rates.

It is into this maelstrom community housing providers have stepped up as they become an evermore crucial, affordable bridge between private rental, public housing and potential homelessness.

What needs to happen is not just higher quantities of affordable housing, but quality housing – built sustainably – like Bowden, where carbon-neutral design mitigates energy prices and the quality of the building materials ensure these homes will stand the test of time.

Alongside affordable renting as a common housing model, we need to look at innovative design and partnerships – and, like European countries, include housing into our planning infrastructure. It’s also part of our economic future to keep highly skilled, young people in this state.

If you’re old enough to know who Tom Jones is – it’s time to walk the talk and make the Green Green Grass of Home a reality for the next generation.

This article was written by Housing Choices Australia Managing Director, Michael Lennon, and appeared in the The Advertiser on August 30, 2022.