By Sophie Trigger
A conference was held by Politics in the pub on Thursday (November 13) at the Harold Park Hotel to address the increasing homelessness in Sydney.
Gary Moore, the CEO of Homelessness NSW, pinned the spike in price of the housing market as a driving factor in the increase of rough sleepers.
“If the NSW Government sees social housing as infrastructure in the same way as roads and rail, it simply should be making greater investments in new social housing,” said Mr Moore.
“It’s going in the opposite direction with regards to social housing. Unless the Commonwealth and state government choose to do other things, it’s just not going to get any better.”
In a study undertaken by Anglicare in April this year, it was found that out of 1,200 properties advertised in a test week, only 21 were deemed affordable for someone living on Centrelink.
Only 800 were considerable affordable for individuals living on the minimum wage.
Homelessness NSW sees these figures as being partly responsible for a 26% increase on in rough sleepers, between February this year and last.
Sister Anne Jordan, from the organization Cana Communities, agrees that the housing market makes it nearly impossible for homeless and disadvantaged groups to secure housing.
“One of the people who had moved on from our community, and was living with us, he was on a pension and he paid $330 a week for a single motel room,” Sister Jordan said.
“To get a unit or an independent place in the city, you just can’t do that for less than $250 or $280 a week – affordable housing is just not possible.”
Homelessness NSW proposes that the NSW Government meet a minimum 10% affordable housing target in order to combat this problem.
Media Spokesperson for Greens NSW, Jan Barham outlines communication between the levels of government as a major obstacle.
“It needs to be a partnership between local, state and central governments,” said Ms Barham.
“What we’re seeing is a lack of communication between all those three levels to ensure we can have delivery of more housing that is affordable and appropriate for those in need.”
Mr Moore points out that enforcing affordable housing as part of new property developments is something being seen increasingly overseas including some states of America.
Mr Moore also addressed the changing demographic of the homeless population.
“Most of the public generally think that homeless people are older men,” Mr Moore said.
“The biggest group is actually low-income, and often migrant families, squashed into severely overcrowded, poor-quality private rental housing.”
But Sister Anne Jordan believes that the impact on families could mean that the issues of affordable housing will finally be addressed.
“I think the issues have to change,” Sister Jordan said.
“Eventually there will be enough people who have family members who can’t manage. Votes change when it touches us personally.”
The 2011 census estimated that there were 30,000 people who were homeless in NSW, but it is almost certain that this figure has gone up.