Budget misses an opportunity on affordable housing
WITH a surplus of $4.5 billion this year, $500 million higher than forecast, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is disappointed very little was allocated to where the need is greatest - breaking the affordable housing gridlock facing the state.
"Yes, there's more for rail, roads, schools and hospitals, which is welcome news, but the homeless and voiceless seem to have been forgotten yet again. The Government will spend just 1.6% of its expenditure on housing and community amenities in 2017-18," Vinnies CEO Jack de Groot said.
"Tonight people will be sleeping rough, in their car, at friends or at one of our crisis accommodation facilities, until they manage to find a permanent place to live in a state that has become unaffordable.
"Yet as this Budget proves, our state is incredibly rich. We maintain a triple-A credit rating.
"However, the pursuit of credit ratings cannot be privileged over the right to home for the estimated 190,000 lower income private renter households in NSW who are in housing stress.
"On the first day of her premiership Gladys Berejiklian announced her commitment to combatting the housing crisis, saying it was the biggest issue facing us as a state.
"Today, other than relief for some first time buyers, there is nothing on the ledger for those people who are paying up to 70% of their income on rent and who face homelessness.
He said the Government's own estimates suggested a need for an additional 25,000 social housing properties over 10 years to simply maintain the level of social housing - investment this year and each year is essential.
"With energy prices soaring by 20 per cent we are going to see many more people facing housing stress, where a tenant spends over 30 per cent of their income on accommodation," Mr de Groot said.
"The further sale of public assets, including the electricity network infrastructure and windfall from land taxes, has generated billions in revenue, but the Government is doing little to help people pay their ballooning power bills and housing need. This is where our Budget surplus must go."
The announcement of an additional $20.4 million over four years to support Homelessness Strategy initiatives, providing an additional 120 transitional accommodation units and support packages for rough sleepers is welcome.
Mr de Groot said the next step for the surplus is social and affordable housing.
"This Budget is not the blueprint required for a long-term, financially sound social and affordable housing sector able to deliver safe, accessible and high-quality housing for the poorest.
"We believe the adequate provision of housing is at the foundation of a just society."