Women at greatest risk of housing stress and homelessness in NSW

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

NSW at a precipice: homelessness set to fall over the cliff without urgent housing investment

Homelessness and housing stress in NSW will reach its highest levels in a generation by next June unless the NSW Government intervenes to keep families safe and housed.

The Equity Economics report ‘A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of COVID-19’ released today by NCOSS found rising unemployment will see homelessness in NSW soar 24% by June 2021 with parts of regional NSW and inner Sydney set to experience disproportionate increases.

In Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, as well as Sydney City and the Inner South homelessness is set to increase by 40.5% within a year.

Homelessness in the Hunter, Coffs Harbour and Eastern Suburbs and Far Western NSW are also set to have proportionally higher increases than other parts of NSW, reflecting already high levels of homelessness and higher local increases in unemployment.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi said NSW’s housing crisis could reach a point of no return without immediate broad ranging policy action from the NSW Government.

“NSW is facing down a looming catastrophe that could see 9000 more Australians without a home and 88,000 more families in housing stress within the year,” Mr Degotardi said.

“The NSW Government has foreshadowed a social housing maintenance and  construction program in next month’s Budget, which is good news.

“Today’s report shows the scale of investment required is significant to ensure everybody in NSW has a home and construction jobs are created in local communities across NSW.

“Before COVID-19 community organisations and the property sector were calling for 5,000 new social housing properties a year over the next decade. That need is even more pressing now – this report shows when this recession reaches its peak, thousands of struggling families may have nowhere to go.”

Mr Degotardi said the report found that 48% of medium to long-term housing providers have reported an increased number of inquiries from people seeking housing assistance.

Even those families that manage to keep a roof over their head are projected to experience extreme housing stress, with 88,800 more households set to have only one or no income earner by June 2021, putting them in danger of not meeting rental or mortgage payments.

Overcrowding in dwellings will also increase as a direct result of housing stress, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people representing nearly 20% of overcrowded households in NSW.

“There were already over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list before COVID-19 hit. The private market cannot ensure that everyone NSW can afford a secure roof over their head.

“It is time for the NSW Government to step up.  Investment in social housing will provide fantastic outcomes for our community, through job creation, economic growth and meeting housing demand.”

Media contact: Hannah Craft, 0423 377 965


NSW Government social housing commitment is good news

The NSW Treasurer’s commitment to including increased investment in social housing in next Month’s state Budget will create jobs and homes for families in rental stress and losing income as a result of COVID-19, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW has said.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi welcomed the commitment to extra funds for renovation and construction of new social housing foreshadowed in today’s Sydney Morning Herald and urged the Government.

“In NSW, we have over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list, a queue that will only grow as the economic impact COVID-19 is felt.

At the same time we know that homelessness is set to increase by as much as 16,000 people as a result of the pandemic,” Mr Degotardi said.

“Investment in renovation will provide an immediate pipeline of work for trades people and much needed upgrades to existing social housing properties.

“While there’s no detail yet about the level of funding for new homes, we are hoping is at a scale that will deliver 5,000 social housing properties a year that we need over the next 10 years.

“In NSW community housing providers have shovel ready projects that could deliver thousands of new homes with support from Government.”

Mr Degotardi said state governments are being left to shoulder the responsibility for ensuring Australians have a home, despite the national scale of the recession and pending levels of homelessness and rent stress.

“NSW is filling a glaring gap left by the Federal Government after its failure to include any direct investment social housing infrastructure in the Budget this week,” Mr Degotardi said

“It will take all levels of Government working together to drive economic recovery and help fix a housing system that has been broken for decades.”

Media contact: Jenny Stokes, 0478 404 280

Budget needs to go beyond loans to boost housing and construction

Extension of the government guarantee for the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by $1 billion is a welcome step from the Federal Government, but only direct investment in social housing would create the jobs and homes for families in rental stress and losing income in the recession, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW has said.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi welcomed the extra support in the Federal Budget for NHFIC, but stated that more support would be needed to tackle the housing crisis and protect 85,000 construction industry jobs currently at-risk in NSW.[1]

“We welcome the Federal Government’s commitment to extend NHFIC’s lending capacity to help the community housing sector build more affordable housing.  However, the failure of the Government to make direct investment in social housing infrastructure is a missed opportunity to create significant economic and employment growth and to provide housing for NSW families in desperate need.” says Mr Degotardi.

“In NSW alone, we have over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list.   That queue will only grow as the economic impact of this pandemic plays out. Rental affordability has halved since March for people on income support and homelessness in NSW is expected to increase by as much as 16,000 people as a result of COVID-19.

“Direct investment in social housing is strongly supported across the housing sector.  It is the right economic move if the Government really wants to generate the jobs and economic growth that we need to put our economy on the road to recovery.”

In recent weeks:

  • Australia’s top economists named social housing spending the single most effective form of economic stimulus in the Conversation-Economic Society of Australia pre-budget survey;
  • The National Housing Finance Investment Corporation found 9 jobs were created for every $1 million in social housing investment;
  • Property peaks joined homelessness organisations, housing providers, unions and the superannuation industry to create the National Alliance for Affordable Housing to call for investment in social housing.
  • More than 300 Australian organisations from across the housing and social services spectrum signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for social housing to be included in tonight’s Budget;
  • And polling showed that 60% of Australians believe investment in affordable housing should have been a Budget priority;[2]
  • The Grattan Institute commended the Federal Government to support CHIA National’s Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP) to build 30,000 social housing properties.[3]

Mr Degotardi said the Federal Government’s lack of direct investment in social housing puts the focus on the NSW government’s response to the housing and construction industry crisis.  Next month’s State Budget must support measures that would deliver 5,000 social housing properties a year for the next 10 years if the NSW Government is serious about economic stimulus, protecting thousands of construction jobs and keeping thousands of families out of homelessness.

“There is an incredible opportunity for the NSW Government to use social housing as the driver of our economic recovery and help fix a housing system that has been broken for decades,” says Mr Degotardi.

“The Berejiklian Government must find the courage and vision to tackle this housing crisis and save the NSW economy and construction sector.”

Media contact: Hannah Craft, 0423 377 965

[1] See Equity Economics Report on COVID-19 impacts: ‘Supporting Economic Recovery in NSW’, link: https://www.homelessnessnsw.org.au/sites/homelessnessnsw/files/2020-05/LR%20-%20FINAL%20-%20Equity%20Economics%20-%20Supporting%20Economic%20Recovery%20in%20NSW_05092020.pdf

[2] See Essential Media polling: https://essentialvision.com.au/priorities-for-upcoming-federal-budget

[3] https://www.domain.com.au/news/social-housing-construction-boom-should-be-key-budget-policy-experts-say-992937/