Call for NSW Government to invest in social housing

19 May 2022

Jodie Harrison MP recently supported a motion moved by Wallsend's Sonia Hornery MP calling on the Government to build new properties and tenant existing vacant social housing properties.

She spoke in support in NSW Parliament: 

"I support the excellent motion moved by the member for Wallsend, who continues to fight very hard for proper housing provision in her electorate. In fact, I have lost count of the number of absolutely desperate people who have contacted my office because they have made dozens of rental applications in my area and have been knocked back for every one of them.

"One case in particular stands out. A woman who recently retired wanted to downsize as her children are grown and moved out of home. She was living in a four‑bedroom home and she wanted something smaller. She recognised that she was a single person living in a big house, and a larger family would probably better utilise that space. She could not find a single available property.

"There is an absolute rental crisis in my local area. Public housing is meant to be the backstop against all of this. Instead, far too often I hear from people who have been on the public waiting list for years and who are becoming increasingly desperate to find somewhere to live. Housing's own figures paint a dire picture. As of June last year, there was a five‑ to 10‑year wait for housing in the Lake Macquarie east allocation zone and most people face waits of over ten years in the Lake Macquarie and Newcastle allocation zones. Stable, low-cost housing can be the key to addressing issues like chronic and intergenerational unemployment. It can support people escaping traumatic or abusive family situations and can help people deal with mental health or substance abuse issues. Given that, it is unbelievable that any public housing property is allowed to sit vacant for any length of time, let alone 12 or 19 months. It is even worse that a property is allowed to sit vacant for so long that it becomes uninhabitable.

"Housing maintenance is a perennial issue in the Charlestown electorate. As I have said before in this place, most of the work my office does on a day-to-day basis relates to public housing. Older houses, which were never meant to stand for as long as they have, have been allowed to decay in my local area. Patchwork maintenance that does nothing to address underlying problems allows issues to snowball. All the while, the Government barely seems to take notice. Recently one man came into my office, absolutely desperate for help. He has emphysema and he is living in a property absolutely infested with black mould.

"He has been presented with two choices: keep trying to navigate the complicated and often unresponsive maintenance process, or move somewhere else and give up his home and his community. The fact that people are faced with such choices is not good enough. After all, this is the highest taxing State in Australia. How can it be possible that a gentleman with emphysema living in a property infested with black mould has to either continue living there and deal with a complicated process to get maintenance or move somewhere else? Given the New South Wales Liberal‑Nationals Government's failure on this score, I am pleased that Federal Labor has committed to a Housing Australia Future Fund. It is so promising and sorely needed.

Federal Labor's housing future fund will deliver 20,000 social housing properties over five years, including 4,000 allocated for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence. This New South Wales Government, even with a Federal Labor win on Saturday, cannot sit on its hands."