This year’s budget was an opportunity for the NSW government to deliver major investment in social and affordable housing to address the urgent need for homes that people can afford especially at this time as we face the social and economic impacts of Covid in the coming year.
Unfortunately the Treasurer has not delivered any significant funds, plans or strategies to deal with the growing crisis in housing in NSW. This is in stark contrast to the $5.2b that the Victorian government committed to spend on the development of some 12,000 public housing dwellings in the next 4 years.
There is $110m this year to provide upgrades and maintenance to social housing properties, including properties managed by Community Housing Providers and this figure includes funds to provide jobs for this work.
This is important funding as it’s vital to address the chronic neglect of maintenance in the government’s social housing stock. However this funding does not address the urgent need to build and develop many more dwellings that people can afford to live in during 2020-2021.
The allocation of $182.9 million for the construction and acceleration of new social housing properties across NSW by the Land and Housing Corporation and the claim that this will result in an addition 1300 new social housing dwellings, is not adequate.
This will not produce homes for the more than 100,000 people on the social housing waiting list now or the many more who will need social housing as the economic situation worsens in the next 12 months as a result of Covid.
Just $17.3m has been allocated to funding Aboriginal housing for only 53 new homes in regional and metro locations. Included in this allocation is support for Aboriginal employment in the construction and trade industry.
The lack of social and affordable Aboriginal housing is severe and will not be solved by this small funding package.
$14.4 million has been allocated to support the Aboriginal Community Housing (ACHP) sector to undertake maintenance, roof restoration/replacements, air conditioning and solar power installation, and construct granny flats and extensions to improve living conditions for Aboriginal people in NSW.
Compared to the $100m allocation for sports infrastructure in NSW, these budget allocations are shamefully inadequate in addressing the urgent housing needs of Aboriginal people in NSW.
The support for homelessness services in this budget is welcome. The $291.8 million to deliver a range of specialist homelessness services across New South Wales is crucially important given the predicted rise in those experiencing homelessness as a result of the impacts of the pandemic and is testament to the positive work done by peak homelessness and housing bodies throughout the pandemic.
For those hoping to buy a home, the Treasurer’s statements on a potential transition away from the current transfer duty and land tax system should mean that purchasing a home is more affordable for first home buyers into the future.