Tuesday 8 August 2017
The ongoing ‘tent city’ in Martin Place has drawn national attention to increasing homelessness and housing unaffordability, which is approaching a crisis. I understand why some ‘tent city’ residents do not want to accept temporary housing given hostels and refuges are full and they have food, clothing and feel safe at Martin Place. Getting authorities to dismantle the camp will only move rough sleepers to other areas like Woolloomooloo, Belmore Park and Wentworth Park.
While having homeless people in the middle of the city is confronting, it shows the scale of the problem and the only real solution is more low cost housing, including wrap-around housing that provides ongoing support to vulnerable people with complex needs like the Camperdown Common Ground project. , There also needs to be continued support for the assertive outreach programs helping people get off the street. Meanwhile there are over 100 homes in Millers Point and Sirius sitting empty waiting for sale.
More and more people are in housing stress and in Parliament earlier this year I called for a mandated 15 per cent target for social and affordable housing in redevelopments, developer levies and a fairer tax system, HERE.
I hope the media attention and public debate means that we get real action to help the 65,000 families on the social housing waiting list. A good start would be a high level taskforce with federal, state and local government to review expert advice about what works and then commit to action.