Today is World Homeless Day and across the globe, charities, businesses and individuals are looking for ways they can solve the issue which seems to be growing daily.
Vinnies NSW is calling for an urgent increase in social housing.
More than 100,000 people are currently on the NSW social housing waitlist, many facing homelessness in the meantime. Some people have been on the list for more than 10 years.
CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Jack de Groot says it’s self-evident that more housing will help address the chronic homelessness problem, but this isn’t translating into enough concrete action on the ground. ‘The NSW government has a building plan, but we need to urgently ramp that up and take major action to house our growing population.
Build Homes, Build Hope
‘That’s why Vinnies has launched Build Homes, Build Hope, a new campaign calling on the Government to build an extra 5,000 social housing properties per year for the next decade.’
Social housing is rental housing funded by the government and provided by government or non-government organisations for those who are unable to secure suitable accommodation in the private market.
A recent report from the Productivity Commission showed that many households on low incomes are barely getting by in private rentals. It found that 66% of low-income households spend over 30% of their income on rent, while more of this cohort – including families and single-parent households – are getting stuck in this situation for years on end.
‘Social housing accounts for only 4 per cent of Australian homes, whereas in the UK it’s 16 per cent. We’re failing people on low incomes,’ said Mr de Groot.
‘When you take the lack of social housing in consideration with the stagnant rate of income support payments like Newstart, it’s next to impossible for people in poverty to get back on their feet. This is leading many people to face homelessness, a situation that is entirely preventable.
‘We all want to make a difference when we see people sleeping rough, but sometimes it’s hard to know-how. Here’s a tangible and immediate way to help – call on the Government to build homes and build hope for those who are facing homelessness, said Mr de Groot.
Paul Spooner says more needs to be done
With a large group of homeless in the Byron Shire and in Byron Bay in particular, Byron Shire Councillor Paul Spooner says more needs to be done.
‘I fully support the Vinnies campaign but, unfortunately, it does not go far enough,’ says Cr Spooner. ‘With over 100,000 homeless today even if the campaign was taken up by the government we would still only have an extra 50,000 homes over the next decade.
‘This is nowhere near enough to solve our housing crisis.
Cr Spooner says social housing In the Byron Shire is less than 2% of all houses available to people on low incomes. ‘This is half the rate available in the rest of the country. This is key contributor to why we have a growing homeless problem across the Shire. An 18% increase over the last 12 months.
State and Federal Governments need to do more
Cr Spooner says that to address the Byron Shire housing crisis he would call on the State and Federal Governments to immediately – stop any sale of social housing or government land in the Byron Shire; set a goal of doubling the number of properties available for social housing in the shire, and; immediately increase the level of financial support to housing the homeless in the shire through campaigns such as Byron Zero Homeless.
‘By addressing these points it would at least bring Byron Shire up to par with the rest of the country in regards to the level of social housing available and go a long way to stopping the exit of long term locals from the Shire.’
On World Homeless Day, Vinnies is calling on NSW residents to sign its petition for more social housing. It can be found at vinnies.org.au/socialhousing.