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Vinnies backs NSW Labor’s housing proposal, hopes government will act

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Sleeping in the cold, morning streets of the Sydney CBD, May 29 2017. PHOTO: Peter Rosengren

Jack de Groot, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society, has welcomed the NSW Opposition’s policy announcement that at least 25 per cent of new properties constructed on government-owned land will be set aside as affordable housing.

“We support their proposal, especially their promise that 15 per cent of privately owned land to be rezoned for housing will be designated for affordable housing,” Mr de Groot said.

“In fact, their commitment to 25 per cent inclusionary zoning exceeds the Society’s demands, which is positive.

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“We launched a petition late last year calling for a change to NSW planning laws to include 15 per cent inclusionary zoning. It has received over 16,000 signatures, demonstrating just how much this issue resonates with everyday Australians.

“On the first day of her premiership Gladys Berejiklian voiced her commitment to combating the housing crisis, saying it was the biggest issue facing us as a state. Now the Labor Party has stepped up with their vision.

“We look forward to the Government’s budget on 20 June where we hope to see Premier Berejiklian following up her words with real action around affordable housing.

“Developments like the Bays Precinct, with plans for 16,000 new homes on publicly-owned land, must include a significant affordable housing component. It is ideally located for key city workers on lower incomes – they too have the right to live in close proximity to their workplace.

“The Opposition’s target to deliver close to 25,000 affordable homes each year will meet the needs of the 60,000-plus applicants now waiting for social housing in NSW. Average waiting periods exceed 10 years in Sydney and other areas of highest need.”

According to National Shelter, Sydney renters are on the threshold of disaster, with the average renter facing housing stress. Many low-income households are paying up to 70 per cent of their income on rents. When over 30 per cent of income goes to accommodation, the result is housing stress. It is estimated 875,000 households in Australia are experiencing housing stress right now.

In 2015-16, specialist homelessness agencies like Vinnies assisted 279,000 people across Australia, equivalent to 1 in 85 Australians, sought help because they were experiencing housing stress.

The Society also helps thousands of people through home, hospital and prison visitation, homeless services for men, women and families, migrant and refugee assistance, support for those living with a mental illness, supported employment services for people with intellectual and other disabilities, budget counselling and youth programs.

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