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Investment in homelessness services in NSW is failing to keep up with demand, and public funding for social housing in NSW has collapsed, according to new data from the Productivity Commission.

NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) CEO, Joanna Quilty and Homelessness NSW CEO, Katherine McKernan said the data showed that NSW was failing to address the dire need for safe and secure housing and homelessness services across the state.

According to the data, an increasing number of people experiencing homelessness in NSW are unable to access accommodation (an increase from 15,471 to 21,790 since 2015-16).

While funding of homelessness services in NSW has grown by $31.9 million since 2015-16, it is markedly slower than in states like Victoria, where funding has grown by $140.1 million over the same period.

Concerningly, capital expenditure on social housing in NSW has declined from $554.3 million in 2015-16 to $370.1 million in 2019-20.

Ms McKernan said the data exposes the significant investment shortfalls in NSW when it comes to housing and homelessness services.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people in our community and the NSW Government needs to do more to ensure the right support and accommodation services are in place,” Ms McKernan said.

“Homelessness services are stretched at the seams and the data shows that we simply are not doing enough to keep up with the demand for crisis accommodation and long-term housing.”

Ms Quilty said it is also extremely concerning to see such a decline in government expenditure on social housing.

“We know that investing in social and affordable housing is a win-win, supporting people into secure accommodation and providing a boost to the residential construction sector,” Ms Quilty said.

“Once supports like JobSeeker and JobKeeper are wound back, homelessness and housing stress will only increase in NSW. The current dire circumstances will worsen.

“As we rebuild from COVID-19, we need to see the NSW Government reverse this current trend from declining capital expenditure on social housing.”

This data follows recent modelling, commissioned by NCOSS and other peak bodies, which showed homelessness numbers are expected to swell by close to 25 percent across the state due to the COVID hit on the economy and the winding back of JobSeeker and JobKeeper supports.

The modelling also showed that demand for social housing will grow, adding to NSW’s impossible waitlist of 50,000 and waiting times of up to 10 years in far too many regions.


Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138 (NCOSS)