North Coast branches of the NSW Country Women’s Association are calling for urgent action on social and affordable housing, all of which has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
This year’s Awareness Week campaign by the association runs from September 5 to 11, and the CWA say their emphasis this year is on the ‘social and affordable housing need in rural and regional NSW, as well as on women over 55 who are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia’.
‘Public Health Orders exhort us to Stay at Home’, the CWA said in a statement.
‘This presumes all people have reliable and adequate housing. We all know this is not the case for many in our region’.
Not keeping pace with the current demand
President of the Bangalow branch of the CWA of NSW, Rebecca Dickson, says, ‘We acknowledge governments at all levels are committing resources towards social and affordable housing, but it is not keeping pace with the current demand, and the demand expected in the future’.
‘Housing affordability is an issue of real urgency for communities right across NSW. COVID-19 restrictions have actually prompted many people in our large cities to look to the regions for a change of lifestyle, which has had the effect of pushing up housing prices in these areas and impacting locals who are either looking to get into the housing market, or looking for somewhere to rent. It has forced many into homelessness’.
It comes as the NSW Regional Housing Taskforce wrapped up its virtual roadshow last week.
Ms Dickson says, ‘The 2011 and 2016 censuses identify older, single women as the fastest growing cohort facing homelessness’.
‘Unequal pay rates and accumulation of assets, and superannuation gaps are seen as the biggest drivers for the rising rates of homelessness for these women, compounded by situations of family violence, where women without adequate financial means are often forced to choose between homelessness and returning to an unsafe place.
‘Add to this, divorce, death of a spouse, unemployment, or illness, along with the unaffordability of increasing rents, and it is easy to see how these inequalities and life circumstances can compound over a woman’s lifetime’.