Hous­ing Af­ford­abil­ity in the 50’s & 60’s

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - News -

Hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity has been a prob­lem for fam­i­lies and politi­cians for many decades. In past ar­ti­cles I have writ­ten about mi­grat­ing to Aus­tralia and liv­ing in Mi­grant camps. Since Euro­pean coloni­sa­tion of Aus­tralia there has al­ways been a prob­lem in se­cur­ing a home. Whether it has been se­cur­ing land or build­ing ma­te­ri­als set­tlers have had prob­lems.

Af­ter the end of WW2 the main prob­lems were the re­turn of ser­vice­men and women from over­seas mar­ry­ing and build­ing fam­i­lies and the in­flux of mi­grants and refugees from war dam­aged Europe.

To cope with these prob­lems the var­i­ous State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ments in­sti­tuted poli­cies that saw the creation of large hous­ing es­tates and as­sis­tance to cou­ples want­ing to pur­chase homes. The State Gov­ern­ments through their Hous­ing Com­mis­sions sub­di­vided large tracts of land and cre­ated low cost hous­ing es­tates where they then rented the homes to ten­ants. The es­tates may have started off as small sub­di­vi­sions and as time went on larger tracts were de­vel­oped such as Dun­das Val­ley, Green Val­ley and Mt. Druitt.

The Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment through the “War Ser­vice Homes” Branch of the then Repa­tri­a­tion Depart­ment also built hous­ing es­tates at Cabra­matta, Cromer (Dee Why) and else­where. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments was that the War Ser­vice Homes were built to be sold to re­turned ser­vice­men who were pro­vided with low cost loans by the Depart­ment to as­sist in the pur­chase. War Ser­vice Home loans were also pro­vided to as­sist in the pur­chase of ex­ist­ing homes (not on War Ser­vice hous­ing es­tates) and also to build ex­ten­sions or ren­o­va­tions on ex­ist­ing homes. An added ben­e­fit was that through War Ser­vice Homes your home was also in­sured with low cost in­sur­ance cover. Later the Gov­ern­ment also cre­ated a Hous­ing Loan In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion which be­came part of the Depart­ment of Hous­ing. This and the War Ser­vice Homes loan port­fo­lio were later sold to a bank in the 1970s.

Dur­ing the 1963 Fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign the then Prime Min­is­ter, Robert Gor­don Men­zies, an­nounced that the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment , if re-elected, would es­tab­lish a Com­mon­wealth Depart­ment of Hous­ing, which would not only ad­min­is­ter the War Ser­vice Homes scheme but would also ad­min­is­ter the newly pro­posed “Home Sav­ings Grant” scheme. This scheme was to en­cour­age young cou­ples un­der the age of 35 years to save monies in an ap­proved sav­ings ac­count with a bank or build­ing so­ci­ety to­wards the pur­chase of a home.

This an­nounce­ment saw me se­cure a po­si­tion in the Pub­lic Ser­vice in the newly cre­ated Depart­ment of Hous­ing in 1964. I was placed in the War Ser­vice Homes sec­tion in the Grace Build­ing at 77 York St Syd­ney, un­til the Home Sav­ings Grant sec­tion was es­tab­lished across the road in “King York House”.

The Home Sav­ings Grant worked like this. The gov­ern­ment would pro­vide a grant of $1 for every $3 saved up to a max­i­mum grant of $500. The grant would be payable on your first home only. You would have needed to be mar­ried and you would have had to have sav­ings over at least three years prior to the date of the con­tract of sale of your first home. The grant would only be given once to a cou­ple to as­sist in the pur­chase of a home. Back in 1964 the av­er­age price of home in Syd­ney would have been around $15000. The home must have been val­ued at no more than $15000. The depart­ment would send out an as­ses­sor to value the home if, for in­stance, you were pur­chas­ing from a rel­a­tive such as your par­ents to en­sure that the price you were pay­ing for the home was fair and rea­son­able.

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