Women in NSW will be at greatest risk of housing stress and in dire need of social and affordable housing as the impacts of COVID-19 deepen in early 2021. New research has found that women form the majority of 360,000 people in NSW projected to be unemployed by July 2021 and that increases in domestic violence are the single biggest cause of homelessness for women.
The Equity Economics report ‘A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of COVID-19’ commissioned by CHIA NSW, NCOSS, and other housing peak bodies examined reports of domestic violence to NSW Police, with some areas including the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven, Capital Region, Outer West and Blue Mountains, and Ryde seeing reports of domestic violence rise by between 30% and 40% between May and June 2020, compared to the previous year.
More than half of domestic violence support organisations surveyed reported an increase in clients seeking help.
The report also found homelessness will climb 24% by June 2021, while an additional 88,800 households will be in housing stress, with only one or no income earners.
Mark Degotardi, CEO of the Community Housing Industry Association NSW, says homelessness and housing stress trends are driven by projected unemployment with women bearing the brunt of job losses across Australia.
“The economic impacts of COVID-19 are disproportionately affecting women. Our responses to the pandemic must focus on this group as well,” says Mr Degotardi.
“Before COVID-19 hit, women over 55 were the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia. Now, in less than a year, tens of thousands of women in NSW will find themselves unemployed or on reduced incomes.
“There is a strong link between unemployment and domestic violence. The report forecasts the highest increase in domestic violence due to higher unemployment is expected to be in Sydney’s Inner West, North Sydney and Hornsby at 5.5%.
“Community housing in NSW already provides affordable homes to women on low incomes, single mothers and older women, who cannot find secure affordable housing in the private rental market.
“There simply isn’t enough social and affordable housing in NSW now. With the demand set to skyrocket in less than a year, we must immediately begin increasing supply.
“Community housing providers across the state have projects in their pipelines that will create thousands of dwellings to help meet this need. But they need the NSW Government to back them in with secure funding and ongoing investment.
“Social housing construction not only creates a valuable asset and a social good; it’s also an incredibly jobs-intensive investment that will jumpstart our state’s economy. It’s a win-win proposition for the government and for women who need access to a secure home they can afford.
“The NSW Government has already flagged an investment for the social housing sector in the upcoming State Budget. We welcome this announcement as the first step towards addressing the housing crisis in NSW. What is important now is that this investment is significant and sustained.”
Media contact: Hannah Craft, 0423 377 965