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Homelessness NSW welcomes ongoing funding for homelessness services and additional investment to provide housing and support for people sleeping rough, however, the NSW Budget is a missed opportunity to address increasing homelessness by significantly investing in social housing construction and jobs.
NSW had a homelessness crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with homelessness increasing by 37% compared to a national increase of 14% from 2011- 2016.
“Homelessness services have worked tirelessly in 2020 to support more than 22,000 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to stay healthy and well during COVID-19 by being accommodated in hotels, including over 3,500 people who were sleeping rough.” said Katherine McKernan, CEO of Homelessness NSW. “This is alongside support provided in crisis accommodation and assistance to sustain tenancies. And this has been a great success so far, with the pandemic being kept out of the homelessness community.”
“The sector welcomes confirmation of funding for the existing Specialist Homelessness Services Program, however, pre-COVID-19 this Program was already supporting 27% more clients than funded for. Services are stretched at the seams and will continue to be without the housing needed to address people’s homelessness.”
Homelessness NSW also welcomes the additional investment in the Together Home Program over the next 2 years meaning up to 800 people sleeping rough will receive housing and support for this period. However, people sleeping rough represent 7% of all people experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness services are already seeing increased demand and are supporting single mothers, families and young people who were getting by pre 2020 but who have been adversely affected through unexpected unemployment and the continuing costs of the rental market.
Economic modelling commissioned by Homelessness NSW and acknowledged by the NSW Government estimates there will be up to 9,000 new people experiencing homelessness in NSW by June 2021.
In the lead up to the NSW Budget Homelessness NSW also identified solutions to this issue – suggesting that 5,000 new properties per year for the next 10 years would not only assist in providing housing for people experiencing homelessness but would have also created up to 18,000 construction jobs across NSW.
The 2020 NSW Budget has failed to invest anywhere near what is required for new social housing to end homelessness in dire economic times. There is limited funding in the NSW Budget to provide new social housing that wasn’t already planned pre-pandemic with approximately 780 new properties funded for the next 4 years.
This stands in stark contrast to a $5.3 billion investment in new social housing in Victoria and the delivery of 9,300 additional social housing properties.
“If we can’t get significant investment in social housing now, when homes are the answer to beating the pandemic, ending homelessness and providing jobs, then when will we see this?”
Katherine McKernan CEO Homelessness NSW 0425 288 446
December 11, 2020
NSW homelessness services continued to experience high demand during a period that included bushfires and a pandemic – data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows in 2019/2020 over 70,300 clients were supported by homelessness services in New South Wales.