Government must back social housing growth with public investment, support services and housing affordability reform

Photograph of houses

The Greens’ Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to grow social housing supply as a long-overdue response to the state’s housing crisis, but has called on the Government to commit to investment and substantial reforms that are needed to provide affordable and secure housing.

“The Greens welcome the commitment to grow social housing supply and support the community housing sector to increase its capacity. This would be a step toward addressing the neglect social housing has suffered under successive governments. But with 60,000 people currently on the waiting list, overcoming the housing crisis in New South Wales must be a priority across the whole of Government,” Ms Barham said.

“The Government must direct public investment into delivering new social housing supply, in addition to their plan to draw on the capacity of the private and non-government sectors. The Greens announced a housing initiative before the 2015 election to establish an immediate $4.5 billion funding stream for new social and affordable housing, which could be delivered without the sale or redevelopment of public assets. This new funding would add a significant boost to the supply of social and public housing.

“The Government’s approach deliver private developers a windfall from their 70% share of the higher-density redeveloped public housing sites. It’s crucial that state and local governments capture a fair share of the increased value coming from rezoning and redevelopment in all new property developments across the state, and that those funds are reinvested into delivering more social and affordable housing and infrastructure.”

Ms Barham warned that the Government must do more to support existing social housing tenants affected by the proposed redevelopments of older stock.

“The Government must learn the lessons from a history of mishandled relocations, including the ongoing sell-off at Millers Point, that have affected the wellbeing of tenants, many of whom are older or vulnerable. These tenants must be genuinely consulted and supported to minimise the social impacts of displacement and disruption. Tenants deserve the opportunity to age in place, remain in the area where their life is based and maintain their connections to services and social supports.

“It’s important that the Government works to develop regionally-focused models for housing and wrap-around services that address the rise in homelessness by providing additional support and options at the local level. Social housing and the services that support it must meet the specific needs of the locations and the population groups that are most disadvantaged and have the greatest difficulty accessing housing, including Aboriginal people, people with disability, older people and youth. I strongly encourage the Government to work closely with local government and community organisations across all regions,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that although a boost of social housing was essential, the social housing system would continue to fall short of addressing need unless all levels of government worked to address the full range of factors affecting housing affordability in Sydney and many regions across the state.

“Even with more social housing, people will continue to face severe problems accessing affordable housing and increased risk of homelessness unless all levels of government address the high housing costs, low rental vacancies and insecure tenure in the private housing market. This includes addressing the tax policies and other factors that are driving speculative investment without improving the supply of new affordable housing,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

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