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Sustainability standards built for community housing

Values-driven investors are expected to be attracted by a solid foundation of new standards for community housing.

Under the new environmental, social and governance standards, community housing providers will gather data and report on how their projects have improved economic and social outcomes.

It is expected to help encourage more private sector capital, including from ESG-driven investors who need evidence they're making a difference.

The Community Housing Industry Association and a consortium of private and public sector partners have been developing the industry standard for the past year.

The new standard announced on Thursday is the second in the world, after a similar framework for community housing in the United Kingdom.

Independent research by consultants SGS Economics and Planning found, without investment, unmet housing needs will cost Australia $25 billion a year by mid-century because of the health, productivity and crime costs borne by the community.

"This standard will provide the ESG performance information investors can consider as they look to invest in the supply of social and affordable housing in Australia," CHIA chief executive Wendy Hayhurst said.

Most lending to community housing organisations in Australia is provided through the federal National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.

But in the UK private investment in social and affordable housing is three times the level of government grant funding.

"Australia is suffering a desperate shortage of affordable rental properties, something we must all work to address," Ms Hayhurst said.

Australia's population grew more than a quarter (28 per cent) between 2006 and 2021, yet the stock of social housing dwellings increased by only 7.7 per cent over the same period.

Social housing comprised four per cent of all dwellings in 2021, compared with six per cent in 1996, according to the association.