The council, and we as citizens, can’t afford to sit and do nothing

[Forum] In regards to the video news interview with Coast Shelter’s, Laurie Maher, re affordable housing, it is not enough to provide even a massive increase in transitory housing for rough sleepers who wish shelter.

As things remain, the number of homeless will just keep rising. Emergency housing will become permanent slums or people will continually rotate in and out of this transitory shelter. Laurie Maher’s concern about affordable housing (extract in Wyong Chronicle edition 145) is the key to solving this situation. It is clear that lack of affordable housing and affordable rentals, links to the devastating growth in the numbers of rough sleepers on the Coast.

The influx of buyers fleeing Sydney costs, the lowering availability of Social Housing, and the 20 plus years waiting list for public housing, have created a drastic shortage of affordable housing for sale or rental. The lower rates of pay for all ages living on Newstart, the specific needs for single male and female parents, a rise in many youths not adapting to blended families, aged couples on fi xed pensions, and students, have created a low and very low income group with no safe, secure housing within their means.

The rough sleepers are the tip of the iceberg. Below the waterline, there are local families having to live with parents in crowded houses, youth moving from friend to friend permanently, pensioners living from week to week without the security of an ongoing lease, with the real fear of street living any time in the future.

There needs to be massive development of social housing. It is possible, and it can be economic, if done professionally. Central Coast Council can begin this process by looking seriously at the upcoming report they have commissioned on affordable housing.

Next, it can begin a concerted process of lobbying the State Members of Parliament and the local Liberal Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast. With massive social housing, the hidden homeless will find shelter, and the economic gains can be channelled into specific shelter for high care residents with ongoing social support.

Soon, there will be many more of our children, grandchildren and grandparents living rough, or living permanently in crammed dwelling constantly fearing sleeping rough. The council, and we as citizens, can’t afford to sit and do nothing. The needs of the hidden homeless and the relatively small number of rough sleepers are not separate.

Email, Jul 30 Margaret Hagan, Buff Point