Op ed: Absence of coordinated social housing plan

By Daniel Strickland, Mission Australia. In March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the census data on homelessness. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, NSW saw the largest rise.
On census night in 2016, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by a staggering 37% since 2011 to almost 38,000 people – more than double the national average.

People living in severely crowded dwellings accounted for a significant part of this number – more than 16,000 – compared with less than 10,000 in 2011.

In Bega–Tathra, the census recorded 47 men, women and children without a safe place to call home on any given night.

Why are so many people still being pushed into homelessness in Bega and Tathra? While there are some vital homelessness support services working hard to reduce homelessness in our region, ultimately homelessness is an ongoing issue because there’s been a long-term absence of a national coordinated plan and lack of a serious commitment to building new social and affordable homes.

Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and at the moment, too many people are being pushed into vulnerable and dangerous situations. They’re being forced into unsuitable transient places like sleeping on the street, or in a car or on a couch at a friend’s house or living in severely overcrowded dwellings.

The situation isn’t getting any better.

As part of the Everbody’s Home campaign, we are calling for a coherent national strategy and a long term commitment from government to build new social and affordable homes. This requires commitment from all governments, the corporate sector, charities and individuals.

To even begin to reduce homelessness, the commonwealth, state and territory governments must commit to building 300,000 new social homes and 200,000 affordable rental properties across Australia by 2030.

There should also be measures to harness private sector investment and ensure investors have surety around the future viability of their investments through long-term and consistent subsidy from governments. Localised housing targets are also needed to ensure new developments meet the needs of all the community.

Find out about Everybody’s Home and how you can join the campaign at everybodyshome.com.au.

Daniel Strickland is Mission Australia area manager for South Eastern NSW & ACT

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