Much more social housing needed

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, recently announced 243 new social housing projects on the Central Coast

Labor MPs and welfare organisations are calling for more social housing projects on the Central Coast, with Coast Shelter reporting there are more than 1300 people on social housing waiting lists in the region.

While welcoming the recent announcement of 243 new homes being built across the Coast by Compass Housing, 86 properties are being delivered by BaptistCare and Uniting as part of the State Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, said while new homes being built by community housing providers with government support is welcome, the total number of social housing units on the Coast has declined since 2011.

“The maintenance of existing homes has been less than adequate,” Harris said.

“We need more social housing and protection for tenants in the private rental market.”

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said investment in additional social housing is long overdue.

“While I welcome this investment that will support those most in need in our region, we have seen this government sell off social housing properties in Sydney,” Tesch said.

“I am seeking FOI documents about how many local properties have been sold off in recent years so I hope this announcement is not just replacing those they have disposed of.

“We know that 20 per cent of all social housing tenants are older women, which is a growing demographic on the Central Coast

“Governments need to ensure that as our community ages there is the support and housing available to let everyone have a dignified retirement.

“Part of this is ensuring that the existing social housing stock is maintained, healthy, and appropriate to the needs of the resident.”

Meanwhile, Coast Community Connections (CCC) Chair Bruce Davis said through its youth mental health, problem gambling and drug and alcohol counselling programs, it sees firsthand the impact that a lack of social and affordable housing options has on individuals, family units and communities as a whole.

“It is well-documented that homelessness on the Central Coast is a problem, with the region commonly regarded as one of the worst in NSW, and of course the situation has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Davis said.

“When it comes to keeping families in safe and affordable housing, early intervention strategies are key, and there’s definitely more that needs to be done on the Central Coast to keep those who are doing it tough in safe housing.”

CCC President, Sharryn Brownlee, said lack of affordable housing on the Central Coast is an ongoing issue.

“While these new homes are definitely a step in the right direction, more investment and support is needed for the region – for both affordable housing options and for community organisations that provide counselling and support services,” Brownlee said.

Coast Shelter President, Margaret Portass, said the organisation looks forward to seeing more affordable housing projects rolled out on the Central Coast.

“Coast Shelter is currently offering accommodation to over 200 men, women, families and youth every night,” she said.

“With the amount of people doing it tough increasing locally, this will not be an easy fix so we need to secure much more additional funding to assist in fixing the housing crisis on the Central Coast.

“In the Gosford Zone there are currently 64 priority (cases) and 1318 on the housing wait list so all additional funding will only assist us helping those most in need and support getting the community into safe housing and is applauded by Coast Shelter.”

Terry Collins

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