Addressing Homelessness

Addressing Homelessness

NSW has a serious social housing deficit. Over 51,000 households are on the waiting list, living in housing stress, abusive relationships or in substandard or unsafe conditions. The consequences on their life are far-reaching, especially for children. The government’s commitment to build only 1,280 homes over the next four years will not solve this crisis.

While the government has made important achievements to get rough sleepers into accommodation during the pandemic, with 19,000 people supported in hotels and motels, and over 800 permanently housed, building new social housing stock is the only way to properly address homelessness.

The focus on rough sleepers has meant other cohorts miss out, including women and children seeking to escape family and domestic violence, who represent more than a third of people applying for housing assistance.

The pandemic is not over yet and there are estimates that unemployment could reach 11 percent in the inner city by June, with the number of families experiencing housing stress to increase by more than 88,000 plus an additional 9,000 people to experience homelessness across the state. Rent reductions at the upper end of the rental market have not been mirrored at the lower end and remain unaffordable to people on low and very low wages. The end of JobKeeper later this month risks a new wave of unemployment, housing stress and evictions.

The mass housing of people sleeping rough during the pandemic shows what can be achieved if the government makes homelessness a priority, collaborates with NGOs and provides resources and support. In Parliament, I submitted a petition signed by over 13,000 people and made an additional statement to the house calling for a social housing development boom, which would also create 18,000 construction jobs and stimulate the economy.

It is a pity that the Minister for Water, Property and Housing sought to politicise debate, using her speaking time to complain about the City of Sydney’s work to get good planning outcomes like ensuring the public park in the planned Waterloo redevelopment is not shaded or windswept. Local amenity in any development is vital if we do not want to create future ghettos.

I remain committed to keeping action on homelessness on the agenda.

Support the national campaign for investment in social housing: > HERE.

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