Critics denounce NSW social housing spend

Tiffanie Turnbull
·2-min read

The NSW government's social housing spend has been criticised as a shadow of what is needed to address homelessness, just days after the Victorian government promised six times as much money on the issue.

Both states have about 100,000 people on social housing waiting lists.

But while the Victorian government on Sunday announced it would put $5.3 billion towards building or replacing 12,000 homes, NSW allocated $900 million in Tuesday's state budget.

About $812 million has been set aside for new houses and upgrades to existing homes, and $80 million to support 300 new housing sector apprenticeships.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the funding, to be spent over the next four years, will see 1300 new homes built and up to 3000 jobs created.

It is the largest state government investment in new social and community housing for more than 20 years, he says.

"We're not just building hundreds of new homes to support disadvantaged and vulnerable people, we're also creating critically important jobs to support the economic recovery of the state," Housing Minister Melinda Pavey said.

But the Community Housing Industry Association NSW says the investment is disappointing and may actually result in as few as 780 extra homes added to the social housing stock.

The $900 million commitment was partly for projects already underway and vulnerable NSW residents could be waiting years for relief, chief executive Mark Degotardi said.

"Homelessness and financial household stress are on the rise," he said.

"There are 50,000 households on the waiting list for social housing. The question that needs to be answered is how many of these people will be left in the cold by today's announcement?"

"The government's commitment for this year is less than $300 million."

Homelessness NSW chief executive Katherine McKernan said the government's approach was in "stark contrast" to Victoria's.

"If we can't get significant investment in social housing now, when homes are the answer to beating the pandemic, ending homelessness and providing jobs, then when will we see this?" she said.

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW labelled the budget a missed opportunity.

It says at least 5000 homes will need to be added to the social housing supply every year for the next decade to address the state's chronic shortages and $812 million does not go far enough.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay agreed the promise would do little to house NSW residents or stimulate the economy.

"Last year they sold off about $300 million in public housing. This year there are more properties that they've earmarked to sell," she told reporters on Tuesday.

"It is not good enough."

The Housing Industry Association offered faint praise for the treasurer's plan, saying it looked forward to working with the government in getting more mature workers and women into trades by providing more flexible trade training options.