Women taking action against homelessness

President Rikki McIntosh trying out her swag

The Country Women’s Association’s Umina Beach branch has put the call out for ‘urgent’ action on social and affordable housing options in rural and regional NSW through a new ‘sleep out’ campaign.

The scheme aims to raise awareness about housing affordability across NSW, but the local branch is also planning to raise funds for homeless women.

This week, President of the CWA Umina Beach branch, Rikki McIntosh, will be holding a sleep out at her home with funds to go towards buying swags for Mary Macs to donate to those in need.

McIntosh said the awareness campaign will also focus on the needs of women over 55 who are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia.

“We acknowledge governments at all levels are committing resources towards social and affordable housing but it is not keeping pace with the current demand, and the demand expected in the future,” McIntosh said.

“COVID-19 restrictions have actually prompted many people in our large cities to look to the regions for a change of lifestyle, which has had the effect of pushing up housing prices in these areas and impacting locals who are either looking to get into the housing market or looking for somewhere to rent.

“For those on the waiting list for social housing this is all bad news, as individuals and families struggle to keep a roof over their heads in the face of rising private market rents or have to rely on the generosity of family and friends.

“Worse still, some of these people will run out of options and be forced onto the streets, contributing to the already unacceptable rates of homelessness in our state.”

With community housing providers reporting the COVID-19 pandemic will only serve to worsen the current situation, the CWA said they will be supporting recommendations from providers around a dedicated fund for the provision of social housing properties, and greater investment in a comprehensive maintenance program across existing social housing properties.

New strategies and reforms that could improve overall housing affordability across the state and superannuation reforms to the rental assistance scheme that would assist low-income earners, particularly financially vulnerable older women, will also be promoted.

“Everybody deserves to have a safe, secure and affordable place to live, and we support community housing providers who are pleading for more to be done to help the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” McIntosh said.

“We must act now if we are to start turning around the massive shortfall that already exists in social housing stocks, and we must start taking seriously the need to make housing in general more affordable for all individuals and families.”

To find out more information on the campaign including how to donate, please contact cwaofnswuminabeach@gmail.com

Media release, Sep 15
CWA Umina Beach