Social housing and homelessness service providers have urged the Greens to pass the Albanese government's housing fund through the Senate, as they say Australia can't afford to delay its response to the growing housing crisis any longer.
The Albanese government has been locked in negotiations with the Greens on its $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, which it expects would generate 30,000 social and affordable housing properties in the first five years.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday announced a one-off $2 billion investment in social housing at the end of June, in a move the Greens have claimed as a concession to their demands.
Advocates are hopeful the bill can pass through the upper house before parliament rises for its winter break at the end of the week.
"We're hoping that the Greens will pass the bill this week, because their actions have strengthened the bill along with the other members of the crossbench and the additional $2 billion that the government has come up with to go to the states is also, I think, a real win," Community Housing Industry Association chief executive office Wendy Hayhurst said.
"We've got the beginnings of a really good social and affordable housing package now.
"It's not enough, but it's enough, I think, to get us started and there are other ways in which we can continue to advocate for much more as well."
The groups, which also include Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, Industry Super Australia, Everybody's Home and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association, will continue to advocate for the $10 billion fund to be topped up over time.
The government has secured the support of Tasmanian senators Jacqui Lambie and Tammy Tyrrell, and ACT senator David Pocock, but needs the Greens to pass the bill. The Coalition have opposed the fund.
In negotiations with the Greens and crossbenchers, the government has agreed to index the fund from 2029-30, guarantee annual disbursements of $500 million and include provisions empowering the treasurer and finance minister to increase the size of future fund payouts.
But the Greens continue to call for a national freeze and cap on rent increases, and a commitment of $2.5 billion a year for public and affordable housing.
Ms Hayhurst said while a rental freeze may appeal to renters struggling with weekly costs, a national freeze could stifle the availability of rental accommodation.
"I think the problem with a rental freezes is it puts many landlords off, either they exit the market and sell I guess, or see the rental freeze coming and think, 'I better get my rent up before that rental freeze comes in.'"
National Shelter chief executive officer Emma Greenhalgh echoed Ms Hayhurst's call.
"Holding up the legislation further just holds up the ability for community housing providers and state governments to really get on with the job of delivering housing," she said.
ACT Greens MLA Jonathon Davis on Sunday renewed calls to forgive the ACT's $98.3 million historic public housing debt, a step Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has previously ruled out.
"With the ACT Government due to pay more than $12 million to the Federal Government in a matter of weeks, it's hard to get excited about this announcement," the ACT Greens housing spokesperson said in a statement.
"As soon as the $50 million lands in the Territory's bank account, we're due to send $12 million straight back. So really, we're already down to $38 million."
The federal Greens will meet next week to consider the additional funding, saying they remain committed to negotiate in good faith.
"Under pressure from the Greens, Labor's National Cabinet has acted on housing funding, finding money they said wasn't there, and now Labor must again listen to the Greens and make unlimited rent increases illegal," Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a statement on Saturday.
Announcing the additional funding for Canberra, alongside Housing Minister Julie Collins and the Prime Minister, ACT senator Katy Gallagher urged the Greens to support the housing fund.
"Its also crucial that the Greens stop joining forces with the Noalition to block the construction of even more houses in Canberra and instead support the Housing Australia Future Fund when it's debated and voted on next week," she said in a statement.
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