NSW is experiencing a housing crisis that has worsened since the COVID-19 recession. Currently in NSW almost 50,000 people are waiting for social housing, with wait times of up to ten years.
The recession and the relocation of workers from metropolitan areas has seen the emergence of an unprecedented housing crisis in regional NSW, as the demand for regional housing has reduced affordability and pushed people out of housing.
Housing and homelessness services across NSW have reported increasing demand and homelessness is exceptionally high in some parts of the state.
What's in the 2021-22 Budget
- This budget continues the funding under the $812 million COVID-19 social housing stimulus package announced in the 2020-21 budget, with further detail provided on $366.5 million in existing funding including:
- $147.1 million for the construction and acceleration of 800 new social housing properties across NSW by the Land and Housing Corporation.
- $129.4 million to maintain and provide new Aboriginal housing across the Aboriginal Housing Office and Aboriginal Community Housing (AHCP) sector, including for roof restorations and replacements, air-conditioning and solar power installation.
- $90 million for upgrades and maintenance of social housing properties, including properties managed by ACHPs, to improve the quality and safety of housing for tenants.
- $34.1 million over 3 years to expand the Roads to Home Program, to provide much-needed infrastructure upgrades to 10 additional Aboriginal communities, bringing the Government’s commitment to this program to $108.9 million since FY 19-20 for up to 31 Aboriginal communities.
- $295.9 million to deliver a range of specialist homelessness services across NSW.
- $20.7 million ($57 million over 2 years) to expand the Together Home program for those experiencing homelessness, including 250 additional households with leasing and wrap around support and funding towards the construction of 100 new dwellings for people that require long-term support at the end of the program.
What does it mean for those doing it tough?
The level of investment in housing and homelessness remains well below what is needed to address the housing crisis in NSW.
The investment in Aboriginal Housing is welcome and long overdue. The investment in Aboriginal Housing will support the delivery of new homes in Aboriginal communities, and maintain existing housing. However it is not sufficient to address under-supply, over-crowding and poor quality, factors that characterise the housing circumstances of many Aboriginal communities across NSW.
The modest investment of $147.1 million to construct an extra 800 social housing properties will do little to address the social housing waiting list of 50,000 applications (including more than 5,000 priority cases).The lack of additional investment in social housing will mean that more households remain on the housing wait list and be unable to access affordable and secure housing that meets their needs. The NSW treasury’s Intergenerational Report estimates that an additional 68,000 people from the 65 age plus cohort alone will be added to the social housing waiting list under ‘business as usual’ policy settings.
In the absence of greater investment in specialist homelessness services more people will be unable to access housing and the supports that they need to exit homelessness.
The expansion in funding through the Together Home program to provide an extra 250 packages for rough sleepers and deliver 100 new homes across NSW is a positive step but will be insufficient to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
What is needed?
A significant increase in investment is needed to deliver at least 5,000 additional units of social housing per year over the next decade that NSW needs to start to address the critical lack of social housing.
While the NSW Budget confirms ongoing funding for specialist homelessness services, this funding reflects ‘business as usual’ funding – and does not address the fact that many organisations are already over capacity and when it comes to crisis accommodation, turn away more people than they support. Funding for specialist homelessness services needs to increase by at least 20% to cope with existing and projected demand.
Budget responses from the sector:
- NCOSS 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission
- Homelessness NSW Pre-Budget Submission
- Shelter NSW Pre-Budget Submission
- CHIA NSW Pre-Budget Submission
- Supporting Economic Recovery in NSW: Investment in social and affordable housing is critical to supporting jobs today and families into the future
- A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of the COVID-19 recession