(Question No. 2508 amended)
Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice, on 22 December
With reference to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS):
(1) What proportion of NRAS incentives are being allocated for dwellings that were already in existence at the time of the introduction of the scheme.
(2) What cost controls and checks have been placed on how much will be paid for NRAS dwellings versus ‘market rates' of housing in those areas.
(3) In regard to the answer to question no. 057 taken on notice during the 2009-10 supplementary Budget estimates of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, can a citation be provided for the reference to, ‘low income tax offsets in the United States'.
(4) Does the pegging of the earnings threshold of eligible NRAS tenants at its current low rate preclude key workers earning slightly more than the threshold from accessing affordable housing, especially in inner belts within larger capital cities.
Senator Chris Evans-The Minister for Housing has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's
(1) Less than 2 per cent (that is, 186 dwellings) of the current 10,796 allocated Incentives were in existence at the time of the introduction of the Scheme. All of these homes were newly built stock that had never been occupied.
(2) Regulation 16 of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) Regulations provides the conditions of allocation and requirements for compliance by Approved Participants for approved NRAS dwellings. These require an independent written valuation for the rental value of each NRAS approved dwelling when it becomes available for rent under the Scheme and at the end of the fourth and seventh years of the approved rental dwelling's 10 year participation in the Scheme. Arranging for independent written valuations is the responsibility of the Approved Participant. The Australian, State or Territory Governments do not contribute to the cost of the valuations.
(3) The following references provide information on the United States' Low Income Housing Tax Credit Scheme. GAO, Federal Housing Assistance: Comparing the characteristics and Costs of Housing Programs GAO-02-76 January 31, 2002 viewed 24 November, 2009 www.gao.gov/products/GAO-02-76. Congressional Research Service The Low-Income Housing Tax credit: A Framework for Evaluation, March 7, 2007 viewed 24 November 2009 www.novoco com/low_income_housing/resource_files/research_center/crs_lihtc_030707.pdf
(4) The NRAS Regulations provide the income threshold for NRAS tenant eligibility, including upper income limits. The income limits are indexed annually using the All Groups component of the Consumer Price Index, percentage change from corresponding quarter of previous year (March quarter) using the all groups weighted average of eight capital cities as published in the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication Cat. no. 6401.0. The indexed tenant income limits are published on the NRAS website.
The NRAS Guidelines provide guidance on how tenants' continuing eligibility is assessed.
Examples of common household types and their income limits are also provided on the NRAS web site at: www.fahcsia.gov.au.
Tenants whose income exceeds the relevant upper income limit for their household type for two consecutive eligibility years cease to be eligible tenants.
Where an annual review indicates that a tenant's income for the preceding eligibility year exceeded the income limit by more than 25 per cent, the NRAS Guidelines allow for the tenant to be given an adjustment period of 12 months after which their eligibility ceases if their income again exceeds the income limit by more than 25 per cent at the end of that 12 month period.