Responses to Homelessness, January 2021
The Tenants' Union recently sent in a submission to the NSW Audit Office's audit of the NSW Government's responses to homelessness.
Everyone deserves a home. Housing is the basis from which we ensure our communities’ well-being. This is not simply about the material, physical and structural protections housing provides, but also a sense of home and belonging within a wider community. The NSW housing system, and in particular the private rental market, has failed to ensure everyone has access to safe, secure, affordable housing. This failure increases both the risk of homelessness for vulnerable renting households, and the barriers to people developing a pathway out of homelessness.
This submission focuses on the insufficient protections and supports provided for people who rent their homes. We outline a range of policy and legislative reforms to our rental housing system/s to address the three focus areas identified in the NSW Homelessness Strategy 2018-2023: intervening early and preventing crisis, providing effective supports and responses, and creating an integrated, person-centred service system. This submission also provides feedback on the department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In summary, we recommend:
- reforms to current NSW tenancy law to improve security, better address hardship, and protect against discrimination
- significant investment into expanding social housing through building new stock, repairing old stock, and acquiring and repurposing available private market stock as social housing stock; and into Housing First programs
- increased transparency of data relating to social housing, rental assistance products, and crisis accommodation services
- adequate investment into free, independent legal advice and advocacy services for renters, including the additional funding required for effective and appropriate provision of information, advice and advocacy supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander renters, renters from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and renters with a disability.
To see all recommendations and read the submission in its entirety, click the button below to access the pdf.