Vinnies and Mission Australia urge NSW Government to buy more social housing

4 August 2021

With COVID-19 impacting people in some of Sydney’s most overcrowded suburbs, there is an urgent need for the NSW Government to acquire more social housing.

“Severe crowding is a form of homelessness and it has been growing in local government areas like Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, and Liverpool.

“People living in overcrowded conditions places greater numbers at risk of contracting COVID-19 as it spreads through workplaces and homes,” Mission Australia CEO, James Toomey said.

“We’re calling on the NSW Government to urgently acquire social housing to meet the immediate public health needs caused by COVID-19.

“Due to growing rates of overcrowding in western and south western Sydney, it’s no surprise that the authorities became concerned when the latest outbreak obtained footholds there.

“Providing adequate amounts of social housing must be part of the government’s pandemic response,” St Vincent de Paul Society CEO, Jack de Groot said.

“We are still campaigning for 5,000 new social housing dwellings to be built or made available per year for the next 10 years.

“But right now, we also need the NSW Government to boost the housing stock it has available in the short-term by buying more,” Mr de Groot said.

“Stay at home orders and lockdown assume people have a safe, secure home to reside in.

“For thousands of people in NSW, this is something they just don’t have access to.

“The increased risks presented by COVID-19 exacerbate existing vulnerabilities already experienced by this group,” Mr Toomey said.

“The NSW Government has done some good work during this pandemic in terms of finding accommodation for those who lack it.

“The NSW government has invested over $20 million in the last six weeks to put rough sleepers in temporary accommodation, and although this is very welcome, it is not a long-term solution for homelessness in NSW, particularly as COVID-19 lockdowns drag on. 

“The Together Home program has found temporary accommodation for hundreds of rough sleepers and helped some of them move into longer-term housing.

“Unfortunately, rough sleeping is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homelessness and only makes up 7% of the overall figure,” Mr Toomey said.

“In the short-term, acquiring housing stock, and in the longer-term, building new social housing, presents a win-win for State Government.

“People from the Premier and Treasurer on down have been talking about the need to kickstart the economy after COVID-enforced lockdowns.

“There is plenty of work in the offing for tradies and the construction industry, it just needs a bit of investment to get going,” Mr De Groot said.

Economic modelling has demonstrated that a stimulus package with a focus on acquiring social housing now while rolling out a strategy to build more social housing is a ‘win-win’ for the NSW Government.

It details both the stimulus to the residential construction sector and household wealth, as well as long-term benefits due to improved housing security, health, and economic participation.

Vinnies media contact: Lachlan Jones  |  0417 446 430
Mission Australia media contact: Lauren Gillin  |  0475 959 494