Housing Crisis in NSW

The Right to Home 

Our Right to Home campaign asks all levels of government to deliver more housing that is affordable, sustainable and connected to adequate transport and community infrastructure.

On 3 August 2017, our petition for more affordable housing was tabled and discussed in the NSW Parliament. However the campaign is not over, we are continuing our petition in 2018 to keep up the pressure on the NSW Government to achieve 15 per cent affordable housing.


What is the Right to Home campaign about ?

The Right to Home campaign seeks to get the NSW, Commonwealth and local governments to deliver more housing that is affordable, sustainable and connected to adequate transport and community infrastructure. 

Every single community member should have a home where they can thrive and which they can afford without experiencing housing stress (spending 30 per cent or more of one’s income on rent).

We all have the right to a home.

What is wrong with rents and house prices?

The rules that govern the housing market have made it a very lucrative business for investors but many people in the community just can’t buy a property and struggle to keep up with high rents. Many are forced to move far from jobs, family and support. While there is a housing construction boom in NSW, almost none of the new units are affordable.

What are we asking for?

Our Right to Home petition is asking the NSW Government to change the State’s planning laws so that at least 15 per cent of new residential developments are set aside for affordable housing – that’s 1 in 6 homes. City planners call this inclusionary zoning.
We also believe that the NSW Government should lead by example and deliver 30% affordable housing on redevelopments on the land it owns – that’s three in 10 homes.
We have also developed a series of comprehensive recommendations for Commonwealth, State and local governments to address the homelessness and affordable housing crisis. 

Read our submission to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and our submission to the Greater Sydney Commission.

What does the petition say, exactly?

The full text of the petition is:

“To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in the Parliaments Assembled.

This petition of residents of New South Wales brings to the attention of the House the urgent need for the NSW Government to deliver more affordable housing.

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). Increasingly, teachers, childcare professionals, nurses and other workers who provide essential services to the community struggle to find affordable accommodation close to work.

While thousands of new units are being built for high income earners in areas close to transport and jobs, lower to middle income earners are being left out. We are calling on the NSW Government to provide adequate and affordable housing for its residents. Everyone has the right to a home.

The undersigned petitioners therefore ask the Legislative Assembly to immediately introduce legislation to require that a percentage of all new residential developments – at least 15% – be set aside for affordable housing.”

How many people have signed our petition?

Over 16,300 NSW residents have so far signed our petition.

Can I still sign the petition?

Yes, you can still sign the petition. We want our ask for 15 per cent affordable housing to remain on the NSW Government's agenda. Copies of the petition can be downloaded here. Please return all original signed petitions to the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, PO Box 5, Petersham NSW 2049.

Who else supports inclusionary zoning?

Vinnies is campaigning alongside numerous allies, including the Sydney Alliance. Over 100 social services agencies, community organisations, churches and trade unions support inclusionary zoning with at least 15% of affordable housing set aside on private land and 30% on public land. This includes the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Catholic Care, Uniting, Mission Australia, the Tenants Union, Settlement Services International, Jewish Care, the National Education Union and many more.

The business community, including the Committee for Sydney and leading academics, including Professor Peter Phibbs from the University of Sydney and Professor Bill Randolph, Director of City Futures at UNSW also support inclusionary zoning.  PWC “recommend 35% inclusionary zoning and this be required across all large residential development across NSW, not just marked urban renewal and greenfield development […]. This would result in standardised conditions for affordable housing for all developers.” PWC’s detailed housing policy to tackle Sydney’s affordable housing crisis is available here.

The Greater Sydney Commission supports inclusionary zoning but only with 5-10% set aside for affordable housing, which is insufficient. You can read our submission to the Greater Sydney Commission. 

What do political parties say about our recommendations?

NSW Labor’s affordable housing policy supports inclusionary zoning and the introduction of:

  • A 15% Affordable housing mandate on privately owned land
  • A 25% Affordable housing mandate on government owned land

​The Greens NSW support inclusionary zoning and called for ambitious targets of 30% for all significant new developments, including the Central to Eveleigh, Parramatta Road and Sydney Olympic Park.

Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney, has called for a mandated 15 per cent target for social and affordable housing in redevelopments.

The NSW Government is considering its position on inclusionary zoning percentages. 

What impact has the petition had so far?

On 3 August 2017, our petition for more affordable housing was tabled and discussed in the NSW Parliament.  Members, staff, volunteers and friends of SVDP watched the Parliamentary debate from the Viewing Gallery of the Legislative Assembly. The following MPs spoke:

  • Damien Tudehope, Member for Epping (Liberal), introduced the petition and supports affordable housing in principle, although he cautioned about disrupting the market and did not commit to a percentage.
  • Luke Foley, Leader of the Opposition (Labor), acknowledged that the SVDP leadership had convinced him to adopt our policy in recommendation. Labor proposes 15% on private land and 25% on Government land.
  • Anthony Roberts, Minister for Planning (Liberal), cautioned against feasibility & referred to the work of the Greater Sydney Commission (5-10%).
  • Michael Daley, Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Labor) reiterated Luke Foley and Labor’s policy.
  • Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta (Liberal) spoke against the recommendation, which he called risky.
  • Jenny Leong, Member for Newtown (the Greens), supports a 30% policy and applauded the Society for its campaign, which led to a debate about percentages while the major parties accept the principle that affordable housing needs to be mandated.

You can watch the full debate here:


However the campaign is not over, we are continuing our petition in 2018 to keep up the pressure on the NSW Government to achieve 15 per cent affordable housing.

What else can we do to get change?

Our petition is just one of many actions to get change.

Over the past two years, members of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW have campaigned tirelessly, organised community events, visited their MPs and local councils, written submissions, highlighted the hardships due to the housing crisis in the media.

We have also organised several events in the NSW Parliament. You can watch last year’s affordable housing forum below:

St. Vincent de Paul - Affordable Housing Forum 2016 - Highlights from Filigree Films on Vimeo.

St. Vincent de Paul - Affordable Housing Forum 2016 - What did the attendees think? from Filigree Films on Vimeo.

St. Vincent de Paul - Affordable Housing Forum 2016 - Full Event from Filigree Films on Vimeo.

How can I stay updated?

You can sign up to the Social Justice Bulletin.

The Hub

A Turning Point for Cassandra

One of the first people to walk through the Blacktown Hub’s door was Cassandra*, a single mother of four living in Castle Hill. She came back to speak at the official opening. Falling behind on her rent, an incredibly high bill from a faulty hot water system, and reduced hours at her work, Cassandra was desperate and just hours away from a Court hearing for eviction when she stumbled across the Vinnies assistance number. 

“I ended up on the phone with a lady from Vinnies and she said to me, ‘There’s a place that you can go to in Blacktown called the Hub, it’s just opened now but you can walk in and they should be able to help you’.” 

That fateful day Cassandra visited the Hub and met manager Kate who helped her get her life on track. 

“I remember Kate was out the front with the receptionist and I explained the situation and Kate said ‘Come in, we can help you with that’. She helped me with the water bill to prevent me from being evicted and it was all done within an hour of that Court case. She paid the water bill and then got in touch with the real estate agent.” 

With all the stress of being unable to pay bills and struggling to look after her children, Cassandra sought counselling from her doctor. His advice was to find a better job first so that she could afford his sessions. Fortunately for Cassandra, Vinnies was able to step in and set up free counselling sessions.

“Kate told me I could see a counsellor and then she called a counsellor and got me an appointment. I’ve had a few sessions since and that was a turning point for me. As a result of the counselling I re-found myself. “Kate is an amazing woman. I cannot express my gratitude to her. She was amazing with the help that she gave me but she also listened to see where I was at emotionally.” 

Cassandra has a message she wants to pass on to Vinnies donors and supporters. 

You are in a position where you can help to turn other people’s lives around. No-one is immune to certain situations happening in life, whether it’s an illness or losing employment or separation. Sometimes people are forced into a situation where it’s hard to see a way out of it. But with organisations like Vinnies and their supporters helping out, there is hope. 

“Thank you.”

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.