The Why And How Of Social Housing In The Now Of COVID-19

sticky with the words Live Now Do Now
Now photo by Kalyan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

People with very low and no income desperately need housing they can afford. That’s old news, in far too many countries.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. National responses to this crisis have been founded on the safety of both the community as a whole, as well as its individuals. Stay home in order to stay safe.

But what about people who have no homes or are in grave danger of losing them? COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the urgent but much neglected need for truly affordable housing.

In many nations, social housing has crept onto the To Do list, inevitably competing with a host of other COVID-19 triggered priorities.

One version of that To Do list goes this way: when COVID-19 has passed and the economy has recovered, then will be time to start building the truly affordable housing. Welcome to never never land, as yet again social housing for those with low and no incomes falls by the wayside of a torrent of economic recovery necessities.

Another version goes this way; social housing doesn’t need to wait for the pandemic to be over and for recovery to happen. Social housing can BE that recovery.

The second version has gained considerable support in Australia, where like other ‘western’ countries, ‘small government’ has resulted in a dramatic erosion of social housing stock without any long-touted but still missing-in-action free market solutions.

The Australian government, still true to its ‘small government’ roots, fiddles while the pandemic burns and blows a kiss to the middle class. Read more in The Conversation: HomeBuilder might be the most-complex least-equitable construction jobs program ever devised

While Australia’s kissyface construction bonus for the middle-class would appear to achieve little or nothing for the country’s economy as a whole, consider instead a program to build a significant volume of social housing. Read more in Pursuit: INVESTING IN SOCIAL HOUSING DURING A PANDEMIC