State-wide housing crisis already evident in Karuah

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HOUSING in NSW has met a crisis, as we attempt and return to some semblance of ‘normality’ post-COVID.

Recent Red Cross donation drives focused on warm gear to assist the increasing homeless and car-living population on the streets of Newcastle.

The clearest impact, more locally, appears to be the plight of the Aboriginal community at Karuah.

“There is a crisis in Port Stephens, especially in Karuah,” John Manton, Interim CEO of the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council (KLALC) told NOTA.

“Quite a few of our members are on waiting lists for housing, and there are more who simply haven’t come forward for their own reasons, typically knowing how long the waiting lists are.

“It is hard to get little projects done, as tradies in the area are still cleaning-up after recent floods and fires, but there is also a shortage of skilled, and unskilled, tradespeople, as well as materials,” Mr Manton continued.

The shortage of ‘affordable’ and ‘social’ housing, both of which appear to be in short supply, is characteristic of the larger, state-wide problem.

‘Affordable housing’ is defined by the NSW Government as “housing that meets the needs of people on very low to moderate incomes and is priced so that they can afford other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education”.

‘Social housing’ is defined as “secure and affordable rental housing for people on low incomes with housing needs, including public, community and Aboriginal housing”.

“Big building companies are not really building ‘affordable’ nor ‘social’ houses, and there is nobody really doing anything else about it,” Mr Manton added.

A cultural issue, according to a UNSW report last year, is that housing is treated as a wealth-building investment, not a fundamental human need.

As for rents, NSW Fair Trading website indicates there are no blanket regulations or rent caps presently existing in NSW, which means that landlords can charge as much as they want, so long as any rises happen within explicit timeframes.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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