Housing groups and community organisations in Port Stephens came together this week to tackle the growing issue of homelessness.
Prompted by the worsening situation across the Hunter region, local MP Kate Washington and Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Rose Jackson hosted a roundtable discussion in Medowie, which included representatives from Hume Community Housing, Port Stephens Council, Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services, Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre, Yacaaba Centre, Hunter Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, St Vincent de Paul, All Saints Anglican Nelson Bay, Rotary, Lions, Karuah LALC, Wahroonga Aboriginal Corporation, Aboriginal Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, Port Stephens-Hunter Police District, Hampshire Property Group, C3 Church Heatherbrae and Passive House People.
“We’ve been crying out for more social housing in Port Stephens for years, but the NSW Government just isn’t listening,” Ms Washington said.
“Attendees explained the lack of it, combined with the rapidly rising cost of private rentals, is leaving vulnerable people to fend for themselves.
“It’s even forcing double-income families onto the street.
“Instead of waiting around for the government to find a conscience, I’ve brought all the local players together to see if we can find some local solutions.
“Every day, I hear from local people, local families, who have nowhere to go.
“It’s tragic – and something has to be done.”
Ms Washington said the lack of social housing in Port Stephens affected the entire community.
“It forces people onto the street, for a start,” she explained.
“But, it also compels residents to enter the private rental market, which drives those costs up even further for everyone else.
“So, private rentals in Port Stephens will continue to get more expensive until we build more social housing options.”
Ms Jackson also voiced her concerns about the current state of affairs.
“The NSW Government has been asleep at the wheel on regional housing,” she said.
“The situation has reached crisis point and they still haven’t issued a full response to the Regional Housing Taskforce.
“So, it’s fantastic to be in Port Stephens with local MP Kate Washington to talk about the crisis.
“Kate has been proactive in inviting local stakeholders to join forces and discuss potential solutions.
“In that respect, it’s been excellent to share ideas on a path forward.
“NSW Labor understands how tough the housing situation is for many regional NSW communities and isn’t waiting for the government to act.
“We’re getting on with discussing solutions right now.”