MEDIA RELEASE: Housing leaders meet in Darwin as homelessness and housing stress demand national attention

National housing and homelessness campaign Everybody’s Home is calling for national leadership to fix Australia’s broken housing system as housing experts, academics and state and territory housing leaders meet at the National Housing Conference in Darwin this week.

Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services, Luke Howarth, will address the conference on Wednesday morning.

Everybody’s Home campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin said figures showing that 13,700 people in the Northern Territory are homeless (equivalent to one in every 16 Territorians), and many more on low incomes are experiencing rent stress are a result of a broken housing system Australia wide.

Ms Colvin said homelessness and rent stress has increased across the country as investment in social housing infrastructure has reached record lows.

“Homes that people can afford are critical to ending homelessness – and rent stress,” she said.

“Australia is one of the wealthiest nations on earth but for more than 116,000 Australians homelessness is a daily reality and more than 800,000 households in rent stress are in grave risk of joining them.

“Homelessness and rent stress are growing in every state and territory and affecting every generation – in cities and in regional areas.

“Research released by AHURI today shows increasing numbers of older Australians are retiring with unsustainable mortgage debt, leading to anxiety and worsening mental health outcomes as they age – and for too many, homelessness.

“It’s time for national leadership to solve what is a truly national crisis.”

Almost 200 housing and homelessness organisations and 30,000 Everybody’s Home campaign supporters are calling for a National Plan to end homelessness: a strategy to deliver 500,000 social and affordable housing properties over the next 20 years; a $20 a week increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance; and nationally consistent rental laws to protect renters from unfair evictions.

Executive Officer of campaign partner, NT Shelter, Peter McMillan, said he was encouraged by the strong support for the conference, with leading national advocates in Darwin to discuss Australia’s social and affordable housing crisis.

“This is an important opportunity for a dialogue on what needs to happen across Australia to end homelessness and meet the shortfall in social and affordable housing,” Mr McMillan said.

“It is a particularly important conversation for us in the Northern Territory, given our overwhelming levels of homelessness, overcrowding and long wait lists for social housing.

“We welcome the Everybody’s Homecampaign team and all other interstate delegates to Darwin to work together to tackle these challenging but solvable problems.

“We are looking forward to hearing about what is being done nationally to secure a national housing strategy, one which will ensure that the Territory gets a fairer share of national funding given the extent of our needs here.”

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