Anglicare chief says move could create ‘political legacy’
WITH governments looking to the construction industry to lead economic recovery, calls are growing for a significant investment into social housing.
To mark the start of Homelessness Week 2020 a series of interactive heat maps have been released showing the high level of homelessness and desperate social housing shortages across the state.
The maps, commissioned by Everybody's Home, show the federal electorates of Page and Cowper have the biggest shortfall in social housing properties, with around 4,400 needed to appropriately house those most in need.
These figures were collated before taking into account job losses as a result of COVID-19 and last summer's bushfires.
Anglicare North Coast CEO Leon Ankersmit said each year it was made clear - through their snapshot of rental affordability - there was a "desperate undersupply" of affordable homes for rent in the region.
"The net result of insufficient affordable homes is that too many people end up homeless," he said.
"Homelessness can mean sleeping in your car, or surfing from couch to couch, or it can mean taking a little dome tent and setting up in the dunes or outskirts of town.
"It's not a holiday, it is a recipe for illness, danger, insecurity and exhaustion."
Mr Ankersmit said there was now an opportunity for governments to turn the situation around and give the economy a boost at the same time.
"The best way to tackle homelessness is not rocket science. It requires more homes to be built," he said.
"What better way to stimulate our flagging economy, create jobs and leave a political legacy than to provide this much needed social infrastructure at this time."
Everybody's Home spokesperson Kate Colvin agreed and called on the Federal Government to address the shortfall and help end homelessness across the country.
"Australia urgently needs the Morrison Government to fix the national social housing shortfall, but it can also give Australia's economy a much-needed boost in the process by creating construction jobs as stimulus," she said.
The data also showed more than 10,400 people are homeless outside of Sydney on any one night - almost a third of all the state's estimated 37,500 homeless population.
More than 65,000 social housing properties are needed in electorates outside metropolitan areas, where incomes do not match rents - almost a half of the state's social housing need of 135,000 extra dwellings.
Chair of Homelessness Australia Jenny Smith said the heatmaps showed homelessness was a problem in all Australian communities, whether they were remote, regional or metropolitan.
"People often think homelessness is an issue mainly in cities and CBDs, but the maps show that to be a myth," said Ms Smith.
"The lack of housing that people can afford is not only the biggest cause of homelessness, but it also prevents people escaping from homelessness."