17th November, 2020

Budget falls short on women’s housing and homelessness

Women’s Electoral Lobby says the NSW Budget has failed to address the growing gender gap and increased poverty and homelessness among women, resulting from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted on women, because of a combination of loss of income and superannuation savings, a double burden of work and caring responsibilities, increased domestic violence and negative effects on mental health and wellbeing. 

Women’s greater poverty is already reflected in housing disadvantage with 62% of social housing tenants being women. Today’s Budget suggests the Government expects to build around 780 new social housing properties over four years, a drop in the ocean compared to the over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list, most of whom are women.  WEL and other community and social housing organisations had asked for an increase of 5,000 new dwellings per year for the next decade.

“There is no information about the net growth of social housing properties and how much of the announced development is for projects already underway. The announcement that $200 million will be spent on repairs and maintenance of existing social housing properties fails to meet the need to significantly increase the stock of social and affordable housing,” said Dr Jane Bullen, spokeswoman for WEL NSW.

“WEL welcomes ongoing funding for homelessness services and investment to provide housing and support for people sleeping rough. However those sleeping rough comprise only 7% of all people experiencing homelessness. Few women sleep rough. Funding for this group will not help the largest cohort of those seeking help from services, women and their children who have experienced domestic violence. There is no other new money in the budget to assist those women and children.

Assistance for those sleeping rough will also not help the fastest growing cohort of homeless people, older women. The NSW rate of increase is the worst nationally. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of women aged 55 and over experiencing homelessness increased by 48% and the number aged between 65 and 74 experiencing homelessness increased by 78%.

Available for Comment – Dr Jane Bullen, WEL NSW Executive email - [email protected]