More budget support needed to give housing hope to struggling families

The NSW Government needs to provide sustained and significant new investment in social housing to avoid leaving thousands of families facing severe housing stress, high unemployment and homelessness, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW has warned.

Today’s Budget provides headline expenditure figures but fails to provide any clarity on how many new social and affordable homes will be built as a result of the announcements.

Whilst the Budget papers indicate that the Government expects to build around 780 new social housing properties over the next four years, there is no information in the Budget papers about the net growth of social housing properties.

“Safe and affordable housing is a basic, essential human right. Today’s Budget leaves thousands of people wondering whether they will have the security of safe and affordable housing,” says Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW.

“Homelessness and financial household stress are on the rise. There are 50,000 households on the waiting list for social housing. The question that needs to be answered is – how many of these people will be left in the cold by today’s announcement?

CHIA NSW welcomes the Government’s commitment to new funding but notes that the $900 million commitment is partly for projects already underway and is a commitment over the next four years.

“The Government’s commitment for this year is less than $300 million. Much more is needed. With the ongoing impact of the recession, recent estimates suggested that the number of households in housing stress will rise by over 20%. The Government needs to commit to building thousands of homes a year for the next decade if we want to avoid the looming wave of disadvantage.”

“Thousands of NSW families will have nowhere to go. Too many people will be left to choose between paying the rent and paying for food on their table, their kids’ education, or adequate healthcare.”

CHIA NSW says the community housing sector is disappointed that no new funding was announced to stimulate supply in the sector.

“The lack of investment in the community housing sector is disappointing. Since 2012, we have built more than 3,200 homes – we have the capability to develop, build and manage social and affordable housing.

“The sector has access to debt finance to leverage the NSW Government’s investment and has a track record of delivering more homes for their buck. Without Government funding, not enough homes will be built to meet the overwhelming need.

CHIA NSW welcomes the Government’s announcement of $200 million for repairs and maintenance on existing social housing properties, and $80 million to support housing sector training programs. However, the focus must be on increasing the overall social and affordable housing stock in NSW.

“Community housing providers across NSW have shovel ready projects that can deliver thousands of new affordable rental homes across the state in the short term if they can secure capital funding or land from government.

“The Government had signalled it would support those efforts. It is very disappointing that many of these projects will now be put on hold and won’t provide the homes people need as the full impact of the recession begins to bite hard.”

“By not investing in new social housing today, the NSW Government has missed an opportunity to support jobs and economic growth,” says Mr Degotardi.

Media contact: Hannah Craft, 0423 377 965