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Government NSW, Political

Peak body urges overhaul to end NSW homelessness gridlock

Homelessness NSW 2 mins read

Media release | Monday, August 7 2023

The peak body for homelessness in NSW is calling for an overhaul to ease the pressure on gridlocked services unable to keep up with growing demand and to stop the social housing waitlist blowing out beyond a decade.

A new Homelessness NSW report has canvassed more than 650 people and 200 organisations, including across the state government, service providers, lived experts, and the finance and property industries, about what needs to change over the next 10 years.

“Homelessness is affecting more people in NSW than ever before. Everyone – from governments at all levels, services, to the property and finance sectors and broader community – must work together and commit to a shared goal of ending, not just reducing, homelessness,” Homelessness NSW Acting CEO Amy Hains said.

The report calls for key measures including higher welfare payments, the upgrading and maintenance of social housing, and adequate support to stop people from becoming homeless after leaving prison, hospital or out-of-home care, to make homelessness “rare, brief and non-recurring”.

“A long-term failure to invest in adequate social and affordable housing, a tight rental market and sharp increase in the cost of living has put an increasing proportion of people just one rent rise away from homelessness,” Ms Hains said.

“And when people can access support for homelessness, it’s often short-term. Homelessness services, which support more than 60,000 people each year, are also overwhelmed and underfunded, meaning that nearly half the people who are seeking help do not receive it.

“At the same time, people asking for help are often met with stigma, racism and not empowered to make decisions about their own lives.

“This is compounded by a lack of coordination across different levels of government to deliver housing and support services, which also lack the relevant data needed to use limited funding in the most effective way.

“The current system is in gridlock as it tries to answer the crisis at our front door without the resources to get people out of the homelessness cycle, and into stable and affordable housing.”

● More than 57,000 households are on the waiting list for social housing, many of them waiting for more than a decades for a permanent home
● Nearly 50% of people in NSW seeking help with accommodation from specialist homelessness services in the 2020-21 financial year did not receive it
● NSW specialist homelessness services are supporting more than 60,000 people each year
● No local government area in NSW experienced a reduction in the rate of domestic and family violence over the 60 months to June 2023
● Less than 1% of homes on the private rental are affordable for people on low incomes

The report warns that siloed policy responses designed to fix homelessness in isolation to broader housing and social issues are doomed to fail, and calls for a coordinated overhaul of housing and social support policies.

“We have fallen into the trap of thinking homelessness is too big and thorny an issue to solve. But this is not the case. What works is large-scale and ongoing funding for social and affordable housing. We just need the political will."

The Ending homelessness together: A systems change approach report will be launched at the Sydney Mint on Monday August 7, between 9am until 11am.

Contact details:

Georgie Moore 0477 779 928
Charlie Moore 0452 606 171


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