Social housing consultation ignores the evidence for genuine solutions

Jan Barham, Greens NSW spokesperson on Housing, has called on communities to tell the State Government to get serious about delivering affordable and social housing solutions. Her comments follow the Government’s release of a Discussion Paper on Social Housing last year which has been followed by ongoing consultation sessions across NSW.

“Last year I initiated a Select Committee inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing that received more than 250 submissions and undertook extensive consultation and research across the state. That inquiry delivered 41 recommendations that were welcomed by many in the housing advocacy sector as a blueprint for resolving the affordable housing crisis in NSW.

“Sadly, the Government’s discussion paper ignores the 41 recommendations from the Select Committee, as well as the clear recommendations from the Auditor-General’s report on public housing and the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry on tenancy management,” Ms Barham said.

“Instead of drawing on what the experts and stakeholders in the community have already told us, the Government wants to take us back to square one. They’re asking the community for ideas and seem likely to continue with their unsustainable approach of selling off public housing to fund the budget shortfall.”

Ms Barham warned that a narrow focus on social housing by Government, without recognising the relevance of broader housing affordability issues and the connections between housing and employment, education, transport and support services would fail to deliver effective solutions.

“No amount of rhetoric about encouraging people to find a pathway out of social housing can help unless the social housing system actually connects people with the opportunities and supports they need, and unless there is a viable way into the private rental market.

“Access to safe, secure and appropriately located housing is a key determinant of people’s wellbeing, as it provides the basis for health, employment and education and access to consistent services.

“In NSW there are nearly 300,000 people who live in social housing and almost 60,000 on the waiting list. There needs to be a strong focus on how the government ensures increased and appropriate housing stock, along with integration with services and community connections for residents.

“Without the provision of additional housing there is little hope that the trend of increased homelessness can be turned around,” Ms Barham warned.

Ms Barham encouraged the public to engage with the consultation process and make use of the information available from inquiries and housing advocacy organisations.

“It is important that the community inform the government that improving the availability of affordable and social housing is a priority and there is ample direction available for how they could take action.

Submissions on the Social Housing Discussion Paper close on 20 February 2015. The NSW Government is due to respond to the Select Committee’s recommendations on 9 March 2015.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891