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Housing and Homelessness


NSW is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. It has been decades in the making, and it requires a long-term plan as well as urgent support for those hardest hit.

Those in poverty and on low incomes are bearing the brunt of spiralling housing costs, and it is getting worse. Almost 70% of these households are in housing stress, increasing by 15% since 2022. Worse still, three in ten are paying more than half of their income on rent – this measure of extreme housing stress increased by a substantial 32% since 2022. The impact is particularly acute for private renters and those living below the poverty line, with many likely to rent for their entire lives.

There are more than 56,000 people waiting for social housing with wait times of up to 10 years and more. There is, currently, an estimated shortfall of 221,500 social housing dwellings [1], and a growing shortfall in social housing for Aboriginal households of over 10,000 dwellings [2]. 35,000 people are homeless, nearly a quarter of whom are young people aged 12 to 24 [3]. It is estimated that nearly 5,000 women and children escaping DV are returning to violence or becoming homeless because they have nowhere to live [4].

What’s In the 2023-2024 Budget?

$2.2 billion Housing and Infrastructure Plan

  • $300.0 million in reinvested dividends to enable Landcom to deliver an additional 1,409 affordable homes and 3,288 market homes to 2039-40.
  • $400.0 million reserved in Restart NSW for the new Housing Infrastructure Fund, to deliver infrastructure that will unlock housing across the State ($100m for Regional).
  • $1.5 billion for housing related infrastructure through the Housing and Productivity Contribution.

$224 million Essential Housing Package

  • $70.0 million interest-free debt financing for NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) to accelerate the delivery of social, affordable and private homes primarily in regional New South Wales by funding initial land and site works.
  • $35.3 million for housing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and families through Services Our Way.
  • $35.0 million to support critical maintenance for social housing.
  • $20.0 million reserved in Restart NSW for dedicated mental health housing.
  • $15 million towards a NSW Housing Fund for priority housing and homelessness measures.
  • $11.3 million urgent funding to continue the Together Home program in 2023-24.
  • $11 million emergency funding for Temporary Accommodation in 2023-24 to support vulnerable people.
  • $10.5 million additional funding to the Community Housing Leasing program.
  • $10.0 million for a Modular Housing Trial to deliver faster quality social housing.
  • $5.9 million urgent funding to Specialist Homelessness Services to respond to increasing demand.

Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper 

  • $13.0 million expansion for DFV victim-survivors.

Rental reform

  • The appointment of a state-first NSW Rental Commissioner.
  • Implementing reforms in the rental market:
    • a Portable Rental Bonds Scheme
    • protecting renters from unfair evictions by legislating reasonable grounds for ending a lease
    • making it easier for renters to have pets in homes.

Build to Rent trials

  • $60m in the South Coast and Northern Rivers for 100 dwellings, 20 of which will be affordable.

$38.7 million Faster Planning Program

  • $24.0 million to establish a NSW Building Commission to support high quality housing and protect home buyers from sub-standard buildings including an additional $1 million in funding for renters’ advocacy organisations.
  • $9.1 million to assess housing supply opportunities across government-owned sites, including for the delivery of new social housing.
  • $5.6 million for an artificial intelligence pilot to deliver planning system efficiencies.
  • Overhauling and simplifying the planning system by redirecting resources from the Greater Cities Commission and Western Parkland City Authority.

Social Housing Accelerator program

  • The Government will permanently expand the number of social housing dwellings by around 1,500 through the $610 million Commonwealth Social Housing Accelerator program.
  • $79.3m of this has been allocated for Aboriginal Housing.

What does it mean for those doing it tough?

While the budget was premised on laying the foundations for future improvements in housing, it lacks meaningful measures to address the housing crisis, particularly for those most at risk of being forced into homelessness.

With little assistance provided for renters, no significant new investment in social housing, no reforms to improve access to the housing market for people with disability, and inadequate funding increases for overstretched homelessness and tenancy advice services, the Budget provides little relief for low-income and disadvantaged households struggling to keep, or find, a safe and secure  roof over their head.

The investments in priority housing, homelessness measures, and temporary accommodation, while very modest, are welcome. We also note the $9.1m allocation to assess housing supply opportunities across government-owned sites and look forward to future investment in social housing identified through that process.

The $35m investment in effective Aboriginal tenancy and housing programs is welcomed, but there is no allocation[5] for urgently needed increased supply of Aboriginal housing.

Repositioning Landcom as a vehicle for re-investment and delivery of affordable housing is positive, but we note that the current commitment will deliver just over 80 affordable homes per year over the next 17 years; this will do almost nothing to address the current estimated shortfall of nearly 80,000 affordable homes for low-income households [6].

What is needed?

We need urgent action and substantial long-term investment to build social and affordable housing, at scale, throughout NSW. The majority of housing-related announcements in the budget are either too small to make a meaningful impact, rely on the private market to boost supply and/or relate to physical infrastructure to support housing, rather than building housing itself. With opportunities through the development of the upcoming National Housing and Homelessness Plan, the establishment of the Housing Australia Future Fund, the Social Housing Accelerator and the Housing Energy Upgrades Fund, as well as an increasing appetite for rental reform across the country, now is the time for real change and a bold new approach.

We hope to see real change in next year’s budget, including a plan to achieve 10% of all dwellings as social and affordable housing by 2041, ongoing funding for the Together Home program, and significant funding boosts for Specialist Homelessness Services and Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Services. The government must also mandate minimum accessibility standards (Silver Level Livable Design) in NSW building regulation, and increase funding of Aboriginal housing from the Social Housing Accelerator Fund to at least $91m to ensure that the funding matches the need.

For renters, we acknowledge positive steps taken by the NSW Government such as establishing the role of Rental Commissioner, a commitment to ending no-grounds evictions, and legislating a portable bonds scheme. However, we need to see more comprehensive reform given the growing numbers of people who rent and rent for longer, and the higher levels of housing stress for this tenure type. Necessary reforms include limiting excessive rent increases, introducing energy efficiency standards, and banning rent bidding.

Budget Responses from the Sector

Sector Priorities

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[1]   Van Den Nouwelant R, Troy L, Soundararaj B 2022 Quantifying Australia’s unmet housing need: A national snapshot viewed 19 June 2023

[2] Brackertz N Davison J Wilkinson A 2017 How can Aboriginal housing in NSW and the Aboriginal Housing Office provide the best opportunity for Aboriginal people?  Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute viewed 26 July 2023

[3] Viewed 19 June 2023

[4] Equity Economics 2021, Rebuilding Women’s Economic Security – Investing in Social Housing in New South Wales, Sydney

[5] Apart from an allocation from the federally funded Social Housing Accelerator

[6] Van Den Nouwelant R, Troy L, Soundararaj B 2022 Quantifying Australia’s unmet housing need: A national snapshot viewed 19 June 2023