Huge investment needed to address social housing crisis

Australia's most populous state needs to invest $2 billion a year for the next five years to address a growing housing affordability crisis, analysis shows.

A leading advocacy group is calling on Premier Chris Minns to ensure social housing remains high on the agenda while the state's housing minister says she will advocate for more Commonwealth funding.

Almost 58,000 families and individuals are on the waitlist for social housing in NSW, the longest of any state or territory.

Figures released by the government in August showed the median wait time for urgent help was three months, up from 2.4 months in 2022.

A rally organised by Action for Public Housing
Families in NSW are waiting the longest of any jurisdiction for social housing. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

That is forcing average wait times out for applicants not needing priority assistance to almost two years.

But recent social housing funding announcements from the Queensland, WA and NT governments have pushed NSW to the lower end of the ladder, ahead of only SA and the ACT, analysis by Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW) showed.

"Families in NSW put their trust in the Minns Government one year ago (and) it's now time for the government to repay that trust," CHIA NSW chief executive Mark Degotardi said.

In the first budget handed down in September, the state government allocated $224 million to help break the cycle of homelessness.

The package included $70 million to accelerate social and affordable home builds, $35.3 million for housing services for Indigenous people and families and $35 million for maintenance to existing social housing.

But CHIA NSW said a far greater injection of funding was needed to tackle the scale of the escalating social housing crisis and called on the government to partner with community housing providers.

The analysis found tens of thousands of social and affordable homes could be built if the government invested $2 billion per year over the next five years.

This level of funding would deliver 25,000 social and affordable homes across Greater Sydney and regional NSW and the government could save up to $1 billion by partnering with community housing providers to deliver half of these homes.

"NSW has the largest, most capable community housing industry in Australia," Mr Degotardi said.

"Partnering with not-for-profit community housing providers to build more homes that families desperately need is exactly what the community expects from the Labor government."

NSW Housing and Homelessness Minister Rose Jackson said she would meet with state and territory counterparts at a Housing and Homelessness Ministerial Council on Monday to advocate for more Commonwealth funding and resources.

Housing Minister Rose Jackson
Rose Jackson says a large number of people in NSW are homeless or on the brink of homelessness. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

In October, Mr Minns and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese launched the Social Housing Accelerator – a $2 billion Commonwealth fund, of which NSW gets $610 million to help the state add 1500 social homes.

But Commonwealth funding has fallen from 0.52 per cent ($2.08 billion) of the 2013-14 Commonwealth budget ($398.3 billion) to be only 0.28 per cent ($1.9 billion) of the 2023-24 Commonwealth budget ($684.1 billion), Ms Jackson's office said in a statement.

To retain the same relative share of the Commonwealth budget as 2013-14 for 2023-24, would require a 90 per cent increase on the 2023-24 allocation.

Ms Jackson said the best way to reduce homelessness was by building houses, but acknowledged that took considerable time.

"NSW has a large number of people who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness. We need funding to help those people."