Colin McKenna: Building a foundation for hope

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More than 110,000 people were waiting for social housing in NSW and some of these people had been waiting more than ten years. Photo: Sardaka/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0
More than 110,000 people were waiting for social housing in NSW and some of these people had been waiting more than ten years. Photo: Sardaka/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0

St Vincent petitions NSW Government to support those in need of housing

Last week, the NSW Government was again urged to invest in more social housing in its upcoming budget with a petition signed by more than 11,500 people.

Organised by members of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW as part of our Build Homes, Build Hope campaign, the petition was tabled in Parliament by the Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich.

Every day, as we provide care and assistance to individuals and families who have reached a point of crisis, members of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW see how frequently such crises are linked to housing.

More than 110,000 people were waiting for social housing in NSW and some of these people had been waiting more than ten years.

And although any lasting solution depends on securing a safe and affordable place to call home, we see that for so many people this is simply out of reach.

This is why we launched our campaign calling on the NSW Government to build 5,000 new social housing dwellings annually.

We know that previous investment has created secure homes that have enabled children to go to school, individuals to enter the workforce, and families to enjoy full, productive and connected lives.

But we also know there simply isn’t enough.

Even before the pandemic, we were in the midst of an acute housing crisis.

Insufficient affordable housing is a serious problem. The St Vincent de Paul Society of NSW wants to see 5000 more social housing dwellings built in NSW annually.
Insufficient affordable housing is a serious problem. The St Vincent de Paul Society of NSW wants to see 5000 more social housing dwellings built in NSW annually.

The housing crisis in NSW

In NSW, almost 38,000 people were homeless while nationally, over 116,000 people did not have a place to call home.

More than 110,000 people were waiting for social housing in NSW and some of these people had been waiting more than ten years.

This crisis will only intensify if governments do not act, and as the economic fallout from the pandemic sees more and more people experience the reality of unemployment, housing stress, and, for some, homelessness.

Yet the pandemic has also shown what is possible where there is political will and where this leads to the allocation of resources. In NSW, the Government’s commitment to supporting people sleeping rough has seen hundreds of people given a new pathway home.

I think of the stories of the many courageous people I have met who are struggling to get by for want of a decent and affordable home.

The pandemic has also increased the value to be gained through social housing investment.

Recent economic modelling shows that if the NSW Government were to invest in 5,000 new social housing dwellings, this would support up to 18,000 jobs.

The experience following the Global Financial Crisis suggests such investment would also have a wider stimulus effect – generating additional turnover and increasing overall GDP.

The real value of this investment, however, would be in lives transformed.

Recent economic modelling shows that if the NSW Government were to invest in 5,000 new social housing dwellings, this would support up to 18,000 jobs. Photo: Nick carson at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0
Recent economic modelling shows that if the NSW Government were to invest in 5,000 new social housing dwellings, this would support up to 18,000 jobs. Photo: Nick carson at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0

Support for the struggling

I think of the stories of the many courageous people I have met who are struggling to get by for want of a decent and affordable home.

And I think too, of how we have the opportunity to help write a new storyline.

One in which a home provides the foundation from which people can reimagine their futures, and build a better life for themselves, for their children, and for generations to come.

To find out more about the Build Homes, Build Hope campaign go to socialjustice.vinnies.org.au/campaigns.

If you are interested in become a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, email [email protected]

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