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Challenge

NSW is experiencing a social and affordable housing crisis that has worsened over the last decade of neglect and recent events including bushfires, floods, and the pandemic. There are more than 50,000 people waiting for social housing with wait times of up to 10 years and more.

The rate of homelessness is increasing, especially for older people, children and young people, First Nations people, refugees and asylum seekers, and people experiencing mental illness.  Severe overcrowding with a range of physical and mental health impacts, including DFV and child abuse, is increasing.

There is an unprecedented housing crisis in regional NSW, with housing costs skyrocketing by up to 44% in some areas over the last 12 months, exacerbated by the relocation of workers from metropolitan areas, housing locked up for use as short-term holiday rentals, and natural disasters.

What’s in the 2022-23 Budget?

Social Housing and Homelessness Services

  • $718 million recurrent funding for social housing including 290 new dwellings in partnership with Community Housing Providers.
  • $394.8 million continued funding for Specialist Homelessness Services – includes ongoing items from continuing COVID stimulus funding - no actual increase from 2021-2022.
  • $55.4 million for Together Home over two years for 120 new dwellings in partnership with Community Housing Providers, providing permanent housing for people sleeping rough, and to extend lease and support packages for existing participants.
  • $300 million additional for upgrades to Land and Housing Corporation owned properties to extend the life of 15,800 properties, 10,000 of which are below standard. The upgrades will include energy efficiency measures.

First Nations Housing

  • $79.9 million in total has been allocated for First Nations housing and infrastructure in 2022-23 over a number of programs including Roads to Home; Strong Families Strong Communities; and Services Our Way; funding for the construction of 200 new homes; general maintenance and upgrades to 260 existing homes; and climate resilience and energy saving upgrades for a further 4,400 properties (over 4 years with additional funding promised).

Regional Housing

  • $106 million ($136.2 million in recurrent expenses and $46.4 million over four years) addressing regional housing supply issues and enabling 271 new key worker houses.

Housing measures in flood impacted areas

Re-announcement of funding commitments previously made by the NSW Government, including:

  • $350 million for the procurement and management of temporary and medium-term housing
  • $285.2 million for rental assistance support, temporary housing measures and a housing flood recovery service
  • $168 million for social and police housing support
  • $112.5 million for Back Home grants to help restore housing to a habitable condition.

Other Housing Measures

  • $780.4m for a two-year trial of a shared equity scheme for up to 6,000 single parents, older singles and First Home Buyers who are teachers, nurses or police to purchase a home with the NSW Government paying a proportion of the purchase price in exchange for an equivalent ownership share of the property
  • $728.6m for the introduction of an option for first home buyers purchasing a home for up to $1.5 million to pay an annual property tax instead of upfront stamp duty.

What does it mean for those doing it tough?

With no assistance provided for renters, the home equity scheme targeted to moderate-income households, and no significant commitment to new social housing, this budget further exacerbates the housing crisis in NSW and ignores the housing needs of low-income families, singles and renters. The $300 million contribution to maintenance and upgrades of existing social housing is welcome, however long overdue following decades of neglect. First Nations communities have been significantly affected by floods, bushfires and increases in homelessness, yet overall funding for First Nations housing looks to remain the same as previous years despite the commitment to 200 new homes.

While continued support for people sleeping rough through the Together Home program is welcome, homelessness is a much larger problem than rough sleeping and the lack of investment in long-term, sustainable housing continues to exacerbate this issue. Further, Specialist Homelessness Services are supporting nearly 30% more clients than they are funded to, yet there is no increase in funding.

Social services across NSW are experiencing increased demand and a worker shortage. Services are unable to provide the assistance that people experiencing poverty and disadvantage need. New key worker housing for regional NSW that covers police, teachers and nurses is an important step for under-serviced regional communities but also a missed opportunity to extend this initiative to community service workers who are providing essential support services for the most disadvantaged people.

What is needed?

The lack of appropriate investment in social housing is a costly oversight by the NSW government. The sector continues to call on the NSW Government to ensure that at least 5,000 additional social homes per annum are funded and delivered – additional dwellings provided for in this budget fall far short of this number.

The lack of quality housing for First Nations communities in regional NSW is a longstanding issue that needs to be addressed. Investment in new and upgraded social and affordable homes in partnership with Aboriginal Community Housing Providers is a positive step. But more is urgently required to address chronic undersupply, protect vulnerable communities from the ravages of climate change, and meet Closing the Gap targets.

Specialist Homelessness Services need an urgent and significant boost in funding to cope with the increasing demand following years of underfunding, and recent crises. In the absence of an evidence-based, data-informed funding model, a boost of 20 per cent to recurrent baseline funding would enable the sector to manage increasing demand and the real costs of doing business.

While there is a strong focus on increasing home ownership in the budget, renters miss out, despite their growing number. Significant reforms to the NSW private rental market are long overdue. Renting should be made a viable, long-term option by ensuring renters have legislative protection against unfair evictions and setting minimum standards in rental housing for health, safety and energy efficiency to protect against heat, cold, mould, pollution and the high cost of energy bills.

The NSW Government’s lack of commitment in this budget to mandate minimum accessibility standards (Silver Level Livable Design) in NSW building regulation is another missed opportunity to implement accessibility standards for hundreds of thousands of renters and home buyers into the future.

 

Further information

Budget responses from the sector:

 

Sector priorities:

 

Read our analysis on other specific policy areas below:

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NCOSS Media Release: Big Spending Budget Fails Those Most in Need