The Federal Government has announced that its $500 million Housing Support Program is now open to applications from councils and state and territory governments, for programs that will support the delivery of increased housing supply. 

Stream 1 of the program is for projects that aim to build the planning workforce and capability to improve the efficiency of the planning process so that housing construction can start sooner.  

These could be new pathways for planners and related professions to enter the industry, or tools to streamline planning systems and improve decision-making efficiency.

Projects could also look at sharing resources between local governments or supporting master planning and planning reform.

Projects must demonstrate how they will align with planning, zoning and regulatory reforms agreed through the National Cabinet’s National Planning Reform Blueprint, land-use planning for disaster resilience and the aims of the National Housing Accord.

The National Housing Accord with states and territories sets out a shared ambition to build 1.2 million new well-located homes over five years from 1 July 2024. 

Homes would be close to jobs, schools, transport and other amenities to support improved productivity and liveability.

The Federal Government has also committed $3 billion for the New Homes Bonus to boost housing supply and federal funding to deliver 40,000 new affordable rental homes. 

Applications for stream 1 of the Housing Support Program will be open from 27 March 2024 until 12.00pm Monday, 29 April 2024.

Stream 2 will provide funding for projects that provide enabling infrastructure and amenities such as footpaths, roads and parks to support new housing. This stream will open for applications in May 2024.  

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, said that through the Housing Support Program, the government will be helping to turbocharge planning so it can deliver more homes for more Australians.   

“Strengthening planning capability through the program will help kick-start housing supply from local, state and territory governments,” Minister King said. 

“It’s a critical part of the plan to work with states and territories and help them meet the ambitious national target to build 1.2 million well-located new homes.”  

Federal Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business, Julie Collins, said that the government has a broad and ambitious housing agenda to help address Australia’s housing challenges, and that the Housing Support Program is a critical part of that agenda. 

“I urge all councils and state and territory governments to submit their projects so we can work together to get more homes on the ground, faster,” Minister Collins said. 

“Our ambitious housing reform agenda is working across the board – more help for renters, more help for homebuyers and more help for Australians needing a safe place for the night.”

ALGA response 

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed the opening of applications and release of guidelines for the program. 

ALGA President, Linda Scott, said that ALGA’s research shows 40 per cent of councils are struggling to secure qualified urban and town planners, which is holding them back from facilitating more affordable housing in their communities.

“We have been advocating for more support to increase our planning capacity and capability and are thrilled the government has responded with this new funding program,” Councillor Scott said. 

“It’s also encouraging that the Housing Support Program will fund important pre-planning work such as master planning, or assessing hazards to improve the resilience of new housing developments.

“I urge all councils to consider applying for this new funding before the deadline of 29 April 2024.”

Cr Scott said that local governments were committed to helping deliver the Federal Government’s ambitious housing targets and enable vital infrastructure investment in new housing developments.

“However we can’t effectively address the nation’s housing crisis by simply building more houses – we also need to build more parks, libraries, playgrounds, recreation centres and swimming pools.

“ALGA is calling for the Housing Support Program to be increased from $500 million to $750 million in the upcoming Federal Budget, with the additional $250 million available to local governments for infrastructure to improve the liveability of new housing developments.”

Cr Scott said that local governments also look forward to seeing the government’s revised Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings and the Net Zero Built Environment Sector Plan to provide improvements in housing affordability and livability.

“Our communities want and deserve higher quality buildings that are safer, more resilient and energy-efficient.

“We also want to reduce the extra costs being incurred by local governments for providing services to poorly designed developments and neighbourhoods.”


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