Greens Call for Inquiry on NSW Public Housing ‘Crisis’
Thursday, 1st August 2013 at 10:11 am
The number of people on the NSW social housing waiting list could blow out to more than 86,000 within three years, if the current situation doesn’t change, according to the Auditor General’s report.
The report revealed there was currently 55,000 eligible applicants on the social housing waiting list, with some people waiting for more than ten years to get a house.
The report has prompted Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham to call for a parliamentary inquiry on the issue.
Social housing only meets about 44% of need in NSW despite the State having the largest social housing portfolio in Australia, according to the report.
NSW Auditor General Peter Achterstraat said the time had come for the Government to set a new, sustainable direction for public housing in NSW.
“Much of today’s public housing stock was planned years ago and is now the wrong size and in the wrong place,” he said.
Achterstraat said many homes were under-occupied despite the growing waiting list with about 30% of all three or more bedroom dwellings only having one or two people living in them.
“Under-occupancy has continued to grow over the past decade and government has had little success in managing this trend,” he said.
“It is crunch time for public housing in NSW. The Government must make difficult decisions about public housing priorities.
“Meeting the major challenges including increasing demand (due to more tenants with complex needs), the ageing and inappropriate dwellings, and maintenance costs, is no simple matter.”
Greens MP Barham said the Auditor-General’s report showed that the social housing sector wasn't able to meet the needs of our most vulnerable.
"A Parliamentary inquiry into housing affordability is essential following this damning report,” she said.
“The inquiry must look at the social factors and the impact of disadvantage that can ultimately lead to homelessness, as well as the economic and planning issues affecting housing affordability.
“The crisis in housing demands new ideas to provide shelter for the vulnerable and make housing more affordable.
"We also need a clear picture about what the Government can do to deliver housing stock that is socially and financially sustainable. There are outstanding questions for the Government around the funds from the sale of lands and what is to be delivered from those sales.
"The conclusions and recommendations in this report highlight the massive waiting lists and demands on social housing, but it's important to also meet the ongoing needs of existing tenants, many of whom are from disadvantaged groups.
“An inquiry must consider strategies that recognise the importance of people's existing community connections, while ensuring that more tenants can be accommodated in the public housing system."