The COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria has gone to level four and it highlights the importance of having a safe place to rest your head for everyone.
Recognising this Lismore’s state MP Janelle Saffin (Labor) and Lismore City council’s Deputy Mayor Darlene Cook attended a Homelessness Week event in Lismore yesterday hosted by local community organisation Momentum Collective and both signed the Everybody’s Home Campaign social housing pledge. There were also events held in Casino and Tweed where Tweed Council’s Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry attended and also signed the pledge. Tweed Mayor Katie Milne was unable to attend but signed the pledge in support of the campaign as did the Mayor of Richmond Valley Council Robert Mustow, Mayor of Clarence Valley Council Jim Simmons, MP for Richmond Justine Elliot (Labor) and Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith.
The pledge supports the building 30,000 social housing units over the next four years across the country to help end homelessness.
Yet to respond
Member for Page, Kevin Hogan (Nationals), Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals), and MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (Nationals) have yet to get back to Everybody’s Home regarding their support for the pledge. Also Mayor of Ballina David Wright is yet to respond.
Sarah Dybing, Momentum Collective’s director of community programs said the challenges of drought, bushfires, floods and now COVID-19 have certainly reaffirmed the importance of having a home to stay healthy and well.
‘It remains a harsh reality that homelessness is only increasing. There are more than 116,000 people in Australia – including (as this heat map shows) 800 in the federal electorate of Page – who don’t have a safe, secure place to call home on any given night.’
State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said she was happy to sign a pledge calling on the Federal government to invest in building significantly more social and affordable homes to increase supply.
‘I have long advocated for this, as not only will it address the issue of homelessness but also will create more jobs in the construction industry in the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘With our economy in desperate need of stimulus after the impacts of COVID-19, now is the ideal time to starting building more housing and everyone is a winner; tenants who over time could end up owning those homes, Federal and State governments, private developers, builders, tradespeople and homewares stores.
‘I thank Momentum Collective for hosting this event to mark Homelessness Week and for what they do supporting people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.”
Lack of short and long term housing
The issue was recently highlighted as police, Byron Shire Council, and National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) moved campers on from a site in Brunswick Heads.
At the time they were being moved there were people who had been camping at the site who regional housing services had not been able to provide temporary accommodation for. For some it related to the fact that they had animals and there is only one temporary accommodation service, in Nimbin, that takes people with animals and they were full. For others they were unwilling to leave Byron Shire because they had children or family members who they wouldn’t be able to see if they went to Ballina, Lismore, or Tweed where there is some temporary and long term social housing. There were three to five members of the camp who had accepted offers of temporary housing in Tweed.
NSW housing strategy
Ms Saffin last month made a 19-page submission, Housing Ends Homelessness Report and Advocacy Paper, to the NSW Government’s Housing Strategy for NSW Discussion Paper.
Her submission was informed by a forum she convened in Lismore last August, where representatives from peak organisations discussed the issues of the lack of housing supply, affordable housing and homelessness, and ongoing consultations with those groups and making representations for local people seeking housing.
Daily risk of homelessness
Ms Dybing said Momentum Collective works with many people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness every day.
‘One of the main barriers we face is the critical shortage of social housing,’ she says.
‘This is why under the umbrella of Everybody’s Home campaign we are advocating for an end homelessness in Australia through building more social housing and a greater investment in support.’
When the Federal Budget 2020–21 is handed down this October, the Everybody’s Home Campaign is calling for a budget commitment to building at least 500,000 new social and affordable homes by 2030, with at least 30,000 of those delivered in the next four years. So that every person in Australia has a safe place to call home.
‘This would not only make a major contribution to ending homelessness, but will also create much needed jobs,’ Ms Dybing says.
‘I encourage everyone in the Northern Rivers to join me and the thousands of others to call on our political leaders to make the changes needed to end homelessness. Because everybody needs a home.’
Please also consider signing up to the Everybody’s Home campaign to call for solutions to end homelessness at Everybody’s Home.