The far north coast is in a social housing crisis and the state government must commit to increased social housing as a priority, Greens MLC and Byron Shire resident Jan Barham said today.
Ms Barham was responding to news that 71,000 low-income renter households in regional NSW are in housing stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their income on household costs.
She says that for many, this means foregoing other essential goods and services to keep a roof over their head.
The alternative is sleeping in cars or caravans, especially in places such as Byron Shire, where a 2014 Anglicare survey showed just 3.7 per cent of dwellings were considered affordable for a low-income household.
‘It’s unacceptable that in this region we have people living in caravans and cars because of the huge shortage of social and affordable housing,’ Ms Barham said.
‘These circumstances impact on people’s wellbeing as housing stress equates to emotional stress. More must be done with planning rules to support those who are vulnerable in this current housing crisis,’ she added.
In 2014 Ms Barham sat on an upper house committee that examined the state of social and affordable housing in NSW.
The state government, which only released its response to the report in January, promised among other things to build some 6,500 additional social and affordable dwellings.
But Ms Barham said that ‘while the NSW Government’s announcement… is a good first step, it barely scratches the surface of what’s needed to address the affordable housing crisis across the state.’
‘In this area it is 10 years or more on the waiting list for social housing and many people have stopped applying due to long wait,’ she said.
‘There are many factors affecting the lack of affordable and social housing, not least that the area is a popular tourism and investment location but also there is a high level of benefit recipients, many with social support needs.
‘Also, many people are unable to gain permanent employment and are casual workers, which poses difficulties in terms of a secure income to enable them to enter the private rental market.
‘The NSW Government must acknowledge that this area is in desperate need for social housing and deliver much needed housing and social services to those in need,’ Ms Barham said.