Housing Affordability : A Social Determinant Of Health And Housing

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Housing affordability can be defined as the ability to access appropriate housing at tenure or price which is not a significant burden upon household income. (1, 2) Australia has seen a significant decline in housing affordability; average house prices have increased by 147% between 2001 and 2011. This was not matched by increases in income. (1) This decline can be attributed to economic growth, population growth, more accessible finance and incentives for owners and investors. These factors create an incentive to buy and store wealth in housing, resulting in overinvestment and house price inflation. (2, 3) Consequently, this results in depletion of affordable housing for low-income households and increases pressure on social housing stocks. (1, 4) Supply and demand has a significant effect on housing affordability. (1)

Housing is a social determinant of health and housing affordability effects quality, type, location and security of housing people can access. (5) Declining housing affordability is a source of disadvantage and has negative links to health. (5) There have been significant increases in households affected by housing stress; meaning they contribute more than 30% of income towards housing costs. (5) This results in decreased income for expenditure on essentials such as healthcare, food and education. (4) Additionally, declining housing affordability is associated with decreased home security, increased housing transition, stress and anxiety, all of
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