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Australia will need to triple its stock of social housing over the next 20 years if it’s to fill the current shortage and keep up with future demand, new research suggests.

Decades of inadequate investment has left the country with a backlog for existing social renters, the homeless and those on low incomes, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

‘Addressing the deficit and future need will call for the construction of some 730,000 new social dwellings over the next 20 years,’ the report, published on Thursday, said.

The report found there is a shortfall of 433,000 social houses and units in Australia, with 36,000 needed yearly over the next two decades to meet the future need.

Report co-author Laurence Troy said a lack of affordable and accessible housing is a serious problem for many Australian families.

‘A renewed social housing program should boost output to a level similar to that seen in the early post-war period when state governments were building about one in seven new homes in Australia,’ said Dr Troy said in a statement on Thursday.

Forty years ago Australian governments invested to build 8000 to 14,000 new public housing units per year, the report said.

‘In a context where Australian governments have been recently funding only around 3000 new social housing units per year, we estimate that output of about 15,000 is needed just to stop the existing shortfall from getting even bigger,’ Dr Troy said.

Not-for-profit social housing campaign group Everybody’s Home said the biggest shortfalls are in NSW and Victoria and they’re pushing homelessness to crisis levels.

‘In a country as wealthy as Australia it is outrageous that we have a shortage of 433,000 social housing properties,’ spokeswoman Kate Colvin said in a statement on Thursday.