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22 June 2018
(Motions, 21 June 2018, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I commend the member for Newtown for bringing this important motion to the House and for working with the Government and Opposition to garner unanimous support. New South Wales has an affordable housing crisis. Tonight in our State some 40,000 people will sleep rough. That is equivalent to almost an entire electorate of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Clearly, more action is needed in this area.
Homelessness is increasing in New South Wales. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], there has been a 37 per cent increase in homelessness in New South Wales, the highest rate across Australia. While the number of homeless children has gone down, nearly 60 per cent of people who are homeless are under 35 years of age. Figures show that 11,000 students are homeless. There are 60,000 families on the New South Wales social housing waiting list. Anglicare's 2017 Rental Snapshot shows only 1 per cent of private rentals are affordable for people on low incomes across the greater Sydney region. As the member for Newtown and I are uniquely aware, this problem is much worse in central Sydney.
When we look around this city we see cranes everywhere, but they are not building affordable housing. Those cranes are building penthouses and commercial premises. There is no mandated target towards affordable housing as there is in other cities across the globe. San Francisco's affordable housing target for developments is 12 to 33 per cent, Montreal's is 30 per cent; Vancouver's is 20 per cent; and South Australia's is 15 per cent. Washington DC's target is 8 to 10 per cent. Sydney's target is a mere 1 to 4 per cent. That is not enough, given the crisis we are in. These numbers are critically important and should inform policy, but so should the individual stories and experiences of people who are homeless.
Those 40,000 people who are sleeping rough include people who are escaping domestic violence and family violence, young kids who have been kicked out of home just because they are gay, refugees and asylum seekers who have just had their income support cut off by the Federal Government, people who have suffered a workplace injury, people with drug and alcohol issues, and people who—because of the State Government's addiction to pokie taxes—are problem gamblers, resulting in them becoming homeless. Tonight young men and women will use phone apps to trade sex for shelter, such is the crisis in New South Wales. We must all work hard on this issue. We must make sure we are working with and for our constituents who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. We must make sure we set strong targets for affordable housing. We must embrace what New Zealand is embracing: a housing first policy. The solution is 100,000 affordable rental properties in New South Wales, and we should work with the corporate sector to deliver them. I commend the member for Newtown for bringing this important motion to the House.
To read the speeches of other Members on the subject, click HERE.
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