Eight hundred people were considered homeless in each of the federal government electorates of Richmond and Page, according to the census data from 2016. That was before the impact of Black Summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rate of homelessness is now being severely impacted by the job losses since the beginning of the pandemic. Research by the Gratten Institute put job losses at 8.4 per cent for Richmond electorate, and 9.7 per cent for Page.
This week is homelessness week (August 2–9) and the Everybody’s Home campaign is highlighting the needs of everyday Australians who are struggling with homelessness and housing stress. Homelessness Australia and Everybody’s Home, have released interactive heatmaps that show the high level of homelessness across the country.
They are calling for the federal government to commit to increasing the capacity of social housing across Australia, and particularly in hard hit areas like the Richmond and Page electorates.
Speaking to Echonetdaily, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home campaign, Kate Colvin, pointed out that tourist-based economies don’t generally provide highly paid work.
For desirable locations like the north coast, the high cost of housing often leaves many people in a state of housing stress; that is, they are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.
‘A lot more people are now at risk of homelessness in these electorates. This is likely to be made worse by the upcoming reduction of social security payments. That will mean that people already experiencing housing stress will be unlikely to be able to keep up with their rent,’ said Ms Colvin.
As part of the Everybody’s Home campaign, they are calling on the Morrison government to fix the national social housing shortfall and give Australia’s economy a much-needed boost by creating construction jobs as a stimulus.
‘During the global financial crisis (GFC), the government grew GDP by $1.30 for every $1 they spent on social housing,’ Ms Colvin pointed out.
‘So we were disappointed to see the federal government put so much money into HomeBuilder as part of their stimulus package. These are people who already own a home, and can afford a significant renovation. There are 10,400 people homeless on any given night in NSW outside Sydney, and that money is desperately needed to provide housing for people who don’t have a home.
‘This is data from before both the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19.’
Everybody’s Home is calling on people to contact their federal MPs to sign a social housing pledge, committing to investment in social housing to help end homelessness, and also delivering urgently needed jobs in local communities.
‘The lack of housing that people can afford is not only the biggest cause of homelessness, but it also prevents people escaping from homelessness.’
The interactive map can be viewed at Everybody’s Home.