Charity makes urgent plea amid National Homelessness Week

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The St Vincent de Paul Society has made an urgent plea to the NSW Government to build more social housing.

It comes as the charity honours the strength and resilience of the 37,000 people who experience homelessness across the state during National Homelessness Week, which ends tomorrow (Saturday 8 August).

Vinnies’ Maitland/Newcastle Diocesan Office representative, Carmel Hanson, said action needed to be taken to help meet the rising demand created by the pandemic.

“More and more people are going to require social housing; good people will struggle to get a job,” she said.

Ms Hanson added that Vinnies’ Build Homes, Build Hope petition could make a real difference.

“We’ve been distributing the petition for two years now and we will hopefully get to 10,000 signatures to take it further,” she said.

“It’s a 10 to 15 year wait [for social housing], which is awful.

“Having lived with homeless people, I know how important it is to have an address.

“Once you get a fixed address it’s better for security, the family, employment and more.”

Vinnies’ Chief Executive, Jack de Groot, said homelessness was a constant physical, mental and emotional struggle.

“It’s more than not having a home – it’s lacking security, privacy, healthcare, nutrition, and so many other things that most of us take for granted,” he said.

According to the charity, more than 45,000 people were on the waiting list for social housing before the pandemic.

With COVID-19 placing pressure on the finances and wellbeing of millions across the country, it believes an increase in social housing is desperately needed.

“Everybody needs a home,” Mr de Groot said. “Having a safe and secure place to live is the first step to finding work, growing a family, and planning for the future.

“The NSW Government has a unique opportunity to boost the health of our state by providing homes for adults, elderly people, children and families currently living in insecure rentals, crowded and inappropriate accommodations, and even experiencing homelessness.

“As economic modelling has shown, building social housing is an ideal stimulus to help our economy recover from coronavirus.

“It ticks all the boxes – it’s good for our finances and good for our families.”

The Build Homes, Build Hope petition is calling on the NSW Government to build at least 5,000 additional social housing properties every year for the next decade, making safe and long-term accommodation available for those who need it.

To support the call for more social housing in NSW, you can visit Vinnies’ website and sign the petition.