Inadequate social housing safety net means too many are still waiting too long


18 December 2020

The number of people waiting for social housing in NSW is too high and the wait is too long, and new government figures show the situation has not improved.

More than 100,000 people are still waiting for social housing in NSW.

“Poverty is a spiral, each step in the chain makes it that much more difficult to get out of it for those it afflicts.

“For people whose living conditions are unsafe or insecure, everything is more difficult.

“People are couch-surfing, living out of their cars, going without meals to make sure they can pay rent, and some don’t even have a roof over their head at all.

“For those who’ve never experienced it, it may be very hard to grasp just how significant an effect it has on your life,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO, Jack de Groot, said.

Newly released government figures show waiting lists are still too long and some people remain in limbo for more than 10 years.

“While there has been some improvement in the general waitlist – with the number of applicants falling from 46,530 to 46,087, the number of applicants on the priority waitlist has grown from 4,484 to 5,308.

“Each applicant represents a household, which means the number of people, including children, who are without a place to call home remains well over 100,000.

“The new figures are as at the end of June 2020, with the number of people who need social housing likely to have grown further still in recent months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” Mr de Groot said. 

“A place to call home is something so many of us take for granted and it is so important to our wellbeing but remains inaccessible to too many people.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has called on the State Government to rapidly increase the rate at which it produces social housing.

“It shouldn’t be up for debate that people should have a home nor should people be waiting years for placement in social housing,” said Brooke Simmons, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Vice President for Social Justice.

“The Society NSW continues to call for at least 5,000 additional social housing properties to be built every year, for the next decade, to ensure we can provide the response needed in the community to this growing crisis.

“The funding for social housing in this year’s state budget fell well short of the amount needed to make a meaningful reduction in the waitlist, let alone prepare for the expected increase in the level of need.”

“Social housing is supposed to be a safety net, a recognition that poverty can strike virtually anyone at any time.

“It’s not an adequate safety net if so many people are falling through it,” Ms Simmons said.