State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has used Parliament to call on the Government to significantly invest in social and affordable housing as the housing crisis grows worse in regional areas.
Ms Hornery raised concerns that there are over 1200 applications on the Newcastle social housing waitlist and the most recent data shows a vacancy rate of just 0.3 per cent in the private rental market.
Ms Hornery also spoke about the increasing number of no grounds evictions of tenants by landlords. As a result of these evictions, the public housing system is not keeping up with current and future demand and emergency homelessness services are at or above capacity and getting worse.
“For too long, public housing has been allowed to decay or has been sold off, with inadequate investment in new stock,” Ms Hornery said.
“We are facing an economic and humanitarian crisis in New South Wales, and it is certainly reflected in Newcastle.
“As a result of the pandemic and the economic downturn, many people have lost their jobs or have seen their working hours cut. Housing costs are soaking up more and more of people’s wages at the exact time we need the community to spend more money in local businesses to help rebuild the community.
“My office deals daily with people seeking housing assistance. We are bombarded with calls, emails and messages from locals who are struggling to find affordable accommodation due to increased prices and high demand.
“One local woman who stayed in a women’s refuge after months of living in her car attended my office. She was living with her son, but he turned violent, threatening to end her life and badly damaging the property they shared. She took out an apprehended violence order against him, but she had to leave that untenable situation.
“There was nowhere for her to go. She could not afford a private rental, which is not surprising given the competitive market and the limits of the age pension, and she was left languishing on the waiting list for public housing.
“She is just one of the 1,200 applicants waiting for housing in the Newcastle area.
“There needs to be a significant investment in social and affordable housing in the very near future.
“Not only will increasing the housing stock help take the pressure off the rental market and keep people from living in their cars or on the streets or under the bridges of the canals in Wallsend, it also makes economic sense” Ms Hornery said.