‘We Can’t Wait’: Budget must end housing limbo for 20,000 regional families

The Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW) is calling for urgent action to address NSW’s social housing waiting list, which has over 50,000 households waiting for up to 10 years or more for safe, secure and affordable housing.

CHIA NSW has warned that households on the social housing waitlist are paying unaffordable private market rents, couch-surfing with family and friends, seeking help from homelessness services – or at worst, sleeping rough. This is particularly the case in regional NSW, where vacancy rates of less than 1 per cent have driven up private rental prices, leaving families scrambling to find a place to live.

A CHIA NSW analysis of the NSW Department of Communities & Justice’s social housing waitlist and private rental vacancies between 2019 and 2020 shows:

  • Mid North Coast: 2,912 households on waitlist, 73% drop in private rental vacancies
  • Newcastle: 1,648 households on waitlist, 45% drop in private rental vacancies
  • Central Coast: 3,004 households on waitlist, 77% drop in private rental vacancies
  • Illawarra: 2,438 households on waitlist, 62% drop in private rental vacancies
  • Northern Rivers: 2,652 households on waitlist, 70% drop in private rental vacancies
  • Hunter Valley: 1,569 households on waitlist, 52% drop in private rental vacancies

Quotes attribute to Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW:

We Can’t Wait is advocating for the families, retirees and key workers waiting 5, 10 or more years for social housing and being crushed by the state’s unstoppable housing market. This must include significant government funding for safe, secure, and affordable housing.

 “This isn’t an inner-city problem. There are thousands of families in regional NSW on the social housing waitlist right now, desperately needing a safe, affordable home.

“The NSW Government’s 2021-22 Intergenerational Report has predicted that an additional 68,000 households will need social housing, meaning waiting lists will more than double by 2061.

“We need to clear the list now and start planning for the surging demand over decades to come.

“We have non-profit community housing providers with shovel-ready projects that could be developed in partnership with the NSW Government starting today.

“In less than a decade, community housing providers have built thousands of new homes across NSW, created thousands of new construction jobs, and contributed $1.2 billion to the state’s economy. We can do much more with more government support.

“Not for profit community housing providers stand ready to support the government in building social and affordable housing across the state. That must start with committed long-term funding in this month’s NSW Budget to address the state’s housing affordability crisis and end rising homelessness.”

Appendix: NSW region breakdown of social housing waitlist and shift in private vacancy rate.

Appendix: Social housing waitlist and shift in private vacancy rates by region

Region 2020 Social Housing Waiting List (Households) 2019 Vacant Private Dwellings 2020 Vacant Private Dwellings % Shift Private Vacancies 2019-2020
Hunter Valley 1569 469 223 -52%
Newcastle 1648 661 362 -45%
Riverina 942 415 216 -48%
Central West 1055 618 267 -57%
Central Coast 3004 1022 237 -77%
Mid North Coast 2912 697 186 -73%
Northern Rivers 2652 451 134 -70%
Illawarra 2438 799 302 -62%
Tamworth 498 244 113 -54%

* Social Housing waitlist data sourced from Social Housing waiting list data to June 2019 and June 2020, NSW Department of Communities & Justice website – housing waiting times/numbers of people waiting: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/housing/help/applying-assistance/expected-waiting-times

Vacant properties data sourced from SQM Research, as at Dec 2019 and Dec 2020: https://sqmresearch.com.au/graph_vacancy.php?postcode=2000&t=1