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New NFP Real Estate Agency to Help Homelessness as Street Count Reveals Sydney in Crisis

21 August 2017 at 9:22 am
Wendy Williams
A not-for-profit real estate agency is set to be established in Sydney in a bid to help increase the supply of affordable rental housing in the inner city, as not for profits are calling for action on homelessness in the wake of the latest street count figures.

Wendy Williams | 21 August 2017 at 9:22 am


New NFP Real Estate Agency to Help Homelessness as Street Count Reveals Sydney in Crisis
21 August 2017 at 9:22 am

A not-for-profit real estate agency is set to be established in Sydney in a bid to help increase the supply of affordable rental housing in the inner city, as not for profits are calling for action on homelessness in the wake of the latest street count figures.

Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and The Salvation Army have responded to the release of the City of Sydney Winter 2017 Street Count figures, saying that more needs to be done to address homelessness within the city.

Meanwhile the City of Sydney announced on Friday that community housing provider Bridge Housing would receive $100,000 to establish a real estate agency that would enable private landlords to support people seeking affordable rental housing.

The Bridge Housing agency will be based on the HomeGround model run by Launch Housing in Melbourne, which manages more than 200 properties.

Bridge Housing CEO John Nicolades said the organisation was always seeking to create more safe affordable housing in Sydney.

“This is an exciting new model that enables private landlords to participate in generating new affordable housing supply under the secure management of a community housing provider experienced in social and affordable housing tenancies,” Nicolades said.

“Bridge Housing is delighted the City of Sydney has made affordable housing a high priority issue and has generously invested in the establishment of our HomeGround real estate venture.”

The City of Sydney has also set aside approximately $24 million for affordable housing measures, including grants to Salvation Army, HammondCare and St George Community Housing, as well as the sale of land to City West Housing at Harold Park, Green Square and Alexandria.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said people sleeping rough were just the “tip of an enormous iceberg”.

“More than 60,000 people are stuck on the state government’s waiting list for social housing, with some waiting up to 10 years for a property to become available. Many people literally have nowhere else to go,” Moore said.

“Housing affordability in our city is at a crisis point, we urgently need more affordable and supported housing in the inner city, and we’re ready to work with the NSW government to help provide it – if they will let us.”

It comes after the City of Sydney’s latest street count on Tuesday revealed 386 people were sleeping rough across the city, just below last year’s winter count of 394 and the second highest winter count figure since the street count began in 2010.

State-funded crisis and temporary accommodation beds were found to be at 86 per cent occupancy, with 438 people in crisis accommodation and 162 in temporary accommodation.

Daryl Smith, a street count volunteer and one of the City of Sydney’s homelessness advisors, who was previously sleeping rough on the streets of Sydney, said support needed to be continuous.

“I was homeless on and off for nearly 25 years, but now I’ve got a roof over my head and support behind me,” Smith said.

“People who are homeless need housing with ongoing support. Sometimes you might get support for six months and then it drops off. It needs to be continuous.

“The reason I get involved with the street count is because I know a lot of the faces on the street. They get to see the little bit of change in me and see that it’s okay to get housed and to get your life back in order.”

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said everyone should have access to safe, secure accommodation and “a place to call home”.

“It’s unacceptable that 386 people are sleeping rough across Sydney, and that crisis and temporary accommodation are near capacity, without the ability to house the hundreds in need,” Yeomans said.

“We must ensure that appropriate accommodation is available for everybody who is seeking it. More investment is needed from all levels of government to increase the availability of social and affordable housing, as well temporary and crisis accommodation that can meet immediate needs.

“We know from experience that putting a roof over someone’s head is an essential first step. However, many people who become homeless have complex needs and it’s essential that they receive the right long-term programs and services to support them to maintain their tenancies and address their other needs.”

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot called for all levels of government to collaborate.

“Charities can’t end homelessness on our own,” de Groot said.

“All levels of government must collaborate with institutional investors and the not-for-profit sector to find a solution–more affordable housing stock and accessible services.

“The Society welcomes the City of Sydney’s initiative to fund a not-for-profit real estate agency because people on low and moderate incomes find it incredibly difficult to get a foot in the door of homes in the private rental market.”

Leader of The Salvation Army’s Streetlevel Mission in Sydney, Mitchell Evans said while the figures were “alarming” only 6 per cent of those currently experiencing homelessness were rough sleepers.

“The hidden homeless are no less vulnerable than the rough sleepers, but their lack of visibility means they are often forgotten,” Evans said.

“We need to ensure that all Australians have access to safe, secure and affordable accommodation and we need to make sure when those most vulnerable in our community reach out for help that the resources are available to assist them in their time of most need.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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