NSW Government must learn the lessons of the floods and urgently house devastated families

Media release

18 August 2022

The floods in Northern NSW have demonstrated how the housing crisis exposed low-income individuals and families to increased risk of disaster and homelessness, Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW) said.

Following the release of the NSW Independent Flood Inquiry report, CHIA NSW is urging the Government to not repeat the mistakes of the past, and to urgently prioritise housing its citizens and protecting them from future disasters.

“Local families in the Northern Rivers have had their lives turned upside down by both natural disasters and a housing vulnerability crisis. Yet in the NSW Government’s response to this report, there is little certainty that there are long-term housing solutions for those families on the way,” said Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW.

“The floods have exacerbated a housing vulnerability crisis that was already well underway and have shown just how exposed our communities are when the State Government doesn’t invest properly in social housing,” said Mr Degotardi.

“The NSW Government must invest in a significant new social housing supply program in the Northern Rivers to ensure that families currently in emergency housing can return to a safe and secure home.

“2,625 families were on the social housing wait list in the Northern Rivers region alone before the floods hit, so in reality this number would now be even higher.

“We know that around 120 social housing properties managed by local community housing providers in the Northern Rivers were lost or impacted by the floods, making it even more challenging for families to find housing in an already depleted market.

“In March when the floods hit, the vacancy rate for private rentals in Lismore was at a troubling 0.2%, that number only rising slightly by July.

CHIA NSW stressed the crucial role of community housing providers in supporting recovery efforts and future resilience in Northern NSW.

“We’re encouraged by the NSW Government supporting a range of recommendations to accelerate recovery and disaster preparedness, and implore it to engage with local community housing providers to implement those recommendations effectively,” Mr Degotardi said.

“The Independent Flood Inquiry report importantly recognises community housing providers as a central part of the solution to housing devastated local families in the Northern Rivers.

“Community housing providers are non-profit, so every dollar is invested back into the community to build homes and support local jobs at a time when that’s needed most,” Mr Degotardi said.

Media Contact: Bron Matherson, 0438 844 765