Media contact: Dr Jane Bullen 0413 806 253
Tuesday 22 June 2021
HOUSING SECURITY FOR WOMEN MISSING IN NSW BUDGET
Sydney – The NSW 2021-22 Budget has today ignored NSW women struggling with insecure employment, poverty, marginal housing and homelessness.
The Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW is confounded by the Berejiklian government’s decision to not use the unexpected windfall in stamp duty revenue from the state’s soaring housing prices to invest in the looming crisis in women’s housing security in NSW, and to house those who cannot even afford to rent a home.
WEL spokesperson Dr Jane Bullen responded to today’s budget stating, “Lifetime factors including the gender wage and wealth gap, discrimination and domestic and other violence mean that women are at particular risk of poverty and housing instability.
“Skyrocketing housing costs have combined with these factors and COVID-19 to create a perfect storm. NSW needs 5,000 new social houses built each year to meet the current demand and waiting list, let alone the looming crisis older women face today,” said Dr Bullen.
WEL calls on the NSW Government to establish a program of building 5,000 social housing dwellings per year. NSW has only been building a fraction of this target each year.
Older women are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness in Australia, and NSW is the state with the fastest rate of increase! Most of these older women are homeless for the first time in their lives because they can’t get rental housing that they can afford, and have no prospect of increasing their income. Between 2013/14 and 2016/17, NSW saw an 88 per cent growth in the number of women over the age of 55 years accessing homelessness services.
The NSW government’s own 2021-22 Intergenerational Report says that there is a need for more social housing for older people who do not own a home, and acknowledges that older people on the social housing waiting list are typically experiencing acute housing stress. Availability of social housing has plummeted by over 50% over the last 30 years. The waiting list for social housing in NSW is around 60,000 people, with many people waiting for over 10 years. There is no priority given to older people on the basis of age until they reach 80 years – female life expectancy is 84.6 years.
“The level of the Aged Pension assumes older people have housing they can afford, and best practice approaches promote ageing ‘in place’ (at home). This is not the reality for many older women.”
While the Budget does include some measures of benefit to women, there is no increase in funding to build social housing for those who cannot pay the high rents in NSW overheated and expensive property market.
The NSW government recognises the need to house people experiencing homelessness who are sleeping rough – but many women, particularly older women avoid sleeping on the street, but likewise are vulnerable, may be homeless long term and in urgent need of housing.