Shadow Minister For Housing Rose Jackson Visits The Coffs Coast

Rose Jackson, Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness, addresses Bellingen locals

 

SHADOW Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness, Rose Jackson, visited Bellingen, Nambucca and Coffs Harbour to talk with locals about the housing crisis in the area.

Ms Jackson said everyone deserves a safe, comfortable and affordable place to call home.

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The Shadow Minister said it is important politicians spend time outside Parliament and she wanted to witness first-hand some of the heartbreaking stories she had been hearing about housing affordability on the Mid North Coast.

Ms Jackson said she has heard stories about families living in tents, women and children fleeing domestic violence with nowhere to go, families evicted from their homes only to see their house weeks later advertised on AirBnB, community centres overwhelmed and towns with literally no houses to rent.

”People are working so hard to look after their families and they just cannot find housing,” Ms Jackson said.

“It shouldn’t be like this,” she said.

Ms Jackson told her Bellingen audience, “We know housing is unaffordable in New South Wales, we know housing is unaffordable in regional New South Wales and we know that housing is particularly unaffordable in areas like the Mid North Coast.”

According to Ms Jackson, 53,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing, up from 46,000 in June 2020.

Of these, almost 10,000 are “priority” which means that they are at imminent risk of homelessness.

Ms Jackson said the “waiting list for social housing in areas like this is almost a decade” and that those numbers do not reveal the full extent of the housing crisis because so many people don’t even bother applying.

Other figures show, she said, the net increase in social housing projected for 2023 is only 400 properties for those 53,000 people, and because of maintenance backlogs, the quality of existing social housing is poor.

She said there has been a decline in per capita spending on social housing in New South Wales during the past five years.

Ms Jackson said that the situation meant that women with children were being forced to choose between returning to abusive relationships or homelessness and that an increasing number of women over 55 who have worked all their lives are at risk becoming homeless.

She pointed out that a local emergency food provider has expanded from two to five days a week, and cannot keep up.

“That’s because people, particularly in the private rental market, are doing absolutely everything they can to pay their rent because they know, if they lose that tenancy, they’re out, and there is nowhere else for them to go,” Ms Jackson said.

While acknowledging that short-term letting is a challenge, she said, “One of the things that I think is particularly disappointing about this government is that they haven’t really even tried.”

She said the problems can be alleviated by good political leadership and progressive governments.

She suggested that, in the short term, abolishing no grounds evictions and starting to build social housing on Government land would make a dramatic difference.

Ms Jackson said she has heard stories of doctors, nurses and teachers who have turned down jobs on the Coffs Coast because they cannot find accommodation.

She acknowledged the Regional Housing Taskforce report, but said that it is not just about building houses, but that there should be infrastructure as well, and more social housing.

Ms Jackson spent time at Pete’s Place in Coffs Harbour talking with Coordinator Anna Scott, about the challenges facing people experiencing homelessness in the city.

She was told that people camped near there because that is where the services are but it is damp and infested with mosquitos.

Ms Jackson said, “We need to do a lot of things right, look at a lot of different solutions to at least try to make things better.

“As the spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness I’m up for that task and will be working with my colleagues over the next year on bold policy to start fixing this crisis.”

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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