Shelter’s regional consultation report launched on Facebook

Keeping a roof over your head can be tough in New South Wales, particularly for vulnerable people. Shelter NSW is today launching Regional Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in a Facebook live event at 12:30pm. To participate, go to www.facebook.com/shelternsw

The report is the culmination of a series of 17 consultations held across the state in 2016, where we met with over 180 stakeholders. Our consultation found that homeownership for people on low incomes is out of the question,  due to being completely unaffordable.

60,000 people are currently waiting for social housing waitlists in NSW. This chronic shortage of suitable social housing is at the heart of many problems people experience and their inability to secure safe, appropriate and affordable housing. The private rental market too has a myriad of problems: poor quality properties, scarcity of affordable housing available to rent, a tenancy database ‘blacklist’ that many claim they weren’t made aware they were being placed on.  On top of that is the looming threat of a landlord evoking the currently legal ‘no cause’ evictions and ending a tenancy, and as many people in coastal areas experience, being kicked out so tourists can be accommodated. Many people we spoke to expressed alarm that policies to shift people from social housing into the private market were not only unrealistic but would only exacerbate already huge problems.

And crisis accommodation, which aims to help catch those who fall through the gaps, is itself in crisis. The supply of temporary accommodation is woefully inadequate for the number of people seeking it, and the quality is poor – and in some cases unsafe.

Participants in the consultation talked about local solutions could be found for their local problems and covered a broad range of ideas, from ‘big picture’ ideas like tax reform and ways to boost homeownership through shared equity schemes, for example, to increasing and improving the availability and mix of social housing stock.  Added to that were ideas like training for tenants to help them sustain tenancies, to wrap around social services for vulnerable people, support for people exiting institutions to stop them becoming homeless and entering an institution again, to the creation of a tenancy action worker role in social housing so tenants have an advocate ‘on the inside’.

In this process we spoke to tenants and their support workers, community housing providers, specialist homelessness services, community support services, neighbourhood centres, disability service providers, amongst others to hear their concerns and workshop ideas that could help solve problems experienced in their community. The final report reflects their experiences and ideas for reform, and we thank them for taking the time to speak to us.

Shelter will shortly begin speaking to range of stakeholders about the concerns raised in this project and the ideas that came out of it.

Download the report here.