Lord mayors from across the country want to strike a deal to have debts to the commonwealth waived so the money can be funnelled into new social housing, 9 News reports.
The deal would be similar to that struck with Tasmania recently.
The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, which includes ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, descended on the federal parliament on Wednesday urging the government to make social and affordable housing in inner cities a key infrastructure priority.
“Australia is facing a homelessness and housing crisis,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore told reporters in Canberra.
“Not a single person on Newstart or youth allowance can afford to live in any of our capital cities.”
She said the council wants to see the commonwealth commit to a specific project in each city that will contribute to reducing the numbers of people who are living rough on the streets because they can’t afford to get into social housing.
Mr Barr wants to see the commonwealth strike the same deal it concluded with Tasmania earlier this month where it waived $150 million in housing debt owed by the state so it could use that money for housing.
“We need to increase the supply of affordable housing in this nation and one very practical way to do that is for the commonwealth to strike the same deal they have with Tasmania with each Australian state,” he said.
In the ACT’s case, it owes $120 million and half the housing funding it gets from the commonwealth each year is used to manage the debt.