Yesterday Treasurer Scott Morrison asked State Governments to find solutions to make housing more affordable for those entering the property purchase market. While this is an important step for the economy, what we desparately need is the Treasurer’s zeal to address the affordable housing crisis facing millions in Australia.

During Anti-Poverty Week last week the Society launched a petition calling on the NSW Government to set a 15 per cent affordable housing target for all new developments.

It came on the day the Greater Sydney Commission, the NSW Government’s agency in charge of leading metropolitan planning and promoting the supply of housing, released a report on the Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula (GPOP), laying out its vision for the future of Sydney.

“We launched our Right to Home campaign at our annual Rosalie Rendu lecture where keynote speaker Hon. Susan Ryan AO, addressed the audience of 200 about the lack of affordable housing in NSW, particularly as it impacts older women,” said Denis Walsh, President St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

“The Society welcomes the Greater Sydney Commission’s recommendation to adopt an affordable rental housing target. But it must be a meaningful target that meets the needs of Sydneysiders in the future.

“We are facing a housing crisis which the Government is clearly not addressing in the GPOP planning. There is one vital question–will GPOP deliver enough housing for the teachers, nurses and tradies who will be working in this metropolis? And when these folk retire, will they be able to continue living there?

“Targets are essential as they are the catalyst for government and community action. We need to be able to ask, in a few years’ time, ‘have promises been delivered?’.

“The Society is at the forefront of the response to the affordable housing crisis. We saw at the Rosalie Rendu lecture the genuine community concern and expectation that governments will do something about the lack of affordable housing and we believe a significant target is essential.”

Every day the Society see the impacts of the housing crisis on people’s lives and seeks to provide a hand-up. But the scale of the problem is massive.

75 per cent of low income households are experiencing rental stress and there are over 28,000 people experiencing homelessness in New South Wales, according to the latest Census data (2011).

Research has also shown that less than one per cent of rental homes in Greater Sydney and the Illawarra Region being appropriate and affordable for households on Government income support payment.  More/…

Jack de Groot, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, says the greatest challenge is to address the needs of those Australians who don’t have housing security.

“I urge all governments to redress the lack of affordable housing. If the Treasurer exercised the same evangelical zeal to improving the lack of affordable housing then we could reduce the inequality that is rife in Australia.”

Mr de Groot argues that the affordable housing target of five to 10 per cent proposed by the Commission is grossly insufficient.

“This is not ambitious enough for very low to low income households in the proposed urban renewal areas. At least 15 per cent of new developments should be set aside for affordable housing, and much higher targets should be adopted for sites that are owned by the Government,” said Mr de Groot.

“Urban redevelopment programs like GPOP generate considerable increases in land value – this value should be shared and enjoyed by all members of the community.

“Our petition is a call to action for the State Governemt. If we can gather 10,000 signatures, we can have the issue raised in the NSW Parliament.

“So we are asking community members, wherever they live, to print our petition, gather signatures and return it to us – every voice counts.”