This month I joined with Community Housing Industry Australia and Homelessness NSW and spoke at the Affordable Housing Conference; Everybody’s Home.
It was attended by over 550 delegates and we came together to discuss issues around homelessness, first home buyers’ housing affordability, social housing, impacts of rental stress collaborating to establish innovative ways to address the growing concerns within our housing industry.
I am a firm believer that everyone should have a place to call home—a place that provides stability, security, safety and connection with family and community—whether home is a cottage, a terrace, a studio, a bedsit, a unit, a caravan or a room in a boarding house. Access to affordable safe and sustainable housing is important. It can ameliorate disadvantage and enable people to participate in society, both economically and socially.
As our population ages, we want to see more people age in place so that they can flourish in their later years and keep their independence as long as they can, remaining in the area in which they have lived. Access to housing is becoming increasingly difficult, especially affordable and social housing.
In regards to homelessness, on the night of the 2016 census the ABS found that homelessness had risen in New South Wales by 27 per cent. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population made up 3 per cent of the Australian population in 2016. However they continue to be over represented and account for 20 per cent of all persons who were homeless on Census night.
In 2014 the social housing waiting list stood at 60,000 families, in 2016 it stood at 67,000. As at 30 June 2017 the number of families awaiting for social housing in New South Wales stood at 56,000 families. While there is still much work to be done to see these families settled I acknowledge the work of the Government in moving our state forward.
We need to do more to address the issues of social and affordable housing and homelessness in our state.