Growing social and affordable housing crisis

Coast Shelter CEO, Michael Starr, (left) with Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, and Shadow Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare

Shadow Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare, was on the Central Coast on March 29 to hear first hand from locals about the growing crisis of housing affordability and homelessness.

Clare was with Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, on a visit to housing providers Coast Shelter and Pacific Link, to discuss the challenges and opportunities to make sure that everyone had a roof over their head.

“Too many locals are already under housing stress and winding back JobKeeper and JobSeeker too soon will only make things worse,” McBride said.

She said the Commonwealth Treasury confirmed that up to 150,000 people would lose their jobs in the aftermath of JobKeeper ending.

“This will inevitably affect the Coast with almost 5,000 local businesses and 18,000 employees accessing the scheme.

“In addition, when the $150 coronavirus supplement is taken away from those on JobSeeker, a further 14,584 residents will be worse off.

“Rental vacancy rates are as low as 0.1 percent in parts of the Coast and rents have climbed by more than $100 a week in just the past few months.

“In some cases, tenants are paying $430 a week to secure a small studio apartment.”

McBride said that it was revealed in State Parliament Budget Estimates in early March that the NSW Government had spent just 4.6 percent of its $220M rent rescue package designed to help renters in financial stress because of the Covid pandemic.

The Minister said that people on the Central Coast were facing a double whammy with the end of JobKeeper and the NSW Government shutting down the rental assistance scheme and “pocketing the dough”.

“They should hang their heads in shame,” Minister Clare said.

“Homelessness on the Coast is growing, but often hidden, as women, families and young people couch surf or live in their cars,” McBride said.

She said local service providers such as Coast Shelter and Pacific Link Housing were working hard but they needed more support, not less, from the Morrison Government.

The Minister said the team at Coast Shelter did extraordinary work helping people who are really struggling and can’t get a roof over their head.

“There is a growing social and affordable housing crisis on the Central Coast,” Clare said.

“At the same time, the Liberal Government’s axing of JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement will leave more people at risk,” Clare said.

Sue Murray

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