Friday, 7 August 2020
THE NSW Government must build more social and affordable housing to end homelessness and stimulate the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands economies blitzed by fire, drought and now COVID-19, according to Lismore MP Janelle Saffin.
Ms Saffin said Australia needed to triple its small and decreasing stock of affordable housing over the next 20 years to address the major legacy issues of the lack of supply, a cripplingly expensive rental market and a growing increase in homelessness.
The former Labor Government, of which she was a member, made affordable housing a national priority and invested heavily in social housing development with the private sector and councils.
“It makes economic sense for the Liberal-National Coalition governments to start investing in a contemporary affordable housing renewal program to house people, drive economic growth and create jobs in our region, and it is just the right thing for governments to do,” Ms Saffin said.
“All State and Territory governments need policy and resource ‘buy in’ from the Federal Government, with the last three Prime Ministers retreating from housing. The NSW Government however must bear some responsibility; in the last financial year, 350 social housing properties were sold off by the NSW Land and Housing Commission, with 1500 more earmarked for sale within the next four years, and the North Coast has not noticed any benefits from Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF).
“With our local economies in desperate need of stimulus after the impacts of COVID-19, now is the ideal time to start building more housing and everyone is a winner — tenants who could end up owning those homes, governments, private developers, builders, tradespeople and homewares stores.”
Ms Saffin last month made a detailed submission, Housing Ends Homelessness Report and Advocacy Paper, to the NSW Government’s A Housing Strategy for NSW – Discussion Paper. It was informed by a major regional forum she hosted in Lismore last August and further consultation with a broad range of participants.
Ms Saffin said she grew up in Housing Commission and felt so pleased and privileged to have a house, a yard, a neighbourhood and a broad mix of people. “All children must have this opportunity and feel like this. It is up to us adults to make sure it happens,” Ms Saffin said.
“One of the 2018 Northern Rivers Housing Forum’s six pillars is to develop at least 100 new social housing properties per year for 10 years, although there needs to be at least 250 per year to clear the waitlist.”