The report in response to the NSW Committee on Community Services inquiry to improve access to existing and alternate accommodation to address the housing shortfall in NSW was released on 18 August 2022.
There are currently 50,000 applicants on the social housing wait list in NSW as a result of a chronic shortage of social and affordable housing.
The inquiry made a number of recommendations including:
- The NSW Government should continue to increase investment in the provision and maintenance of public and social housing to address the critical shortage of housing options for those who are eligible for it.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment co-designs with housing and homelessness experts, a framework for meanwhile use that covers suitability of the property, support services for tenants, minimum timeframes, types of buildings, conversion costs and factors, and local community consultation.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment provides grants to local councils and housing providers for innovative housing programs, such as home sharing and tiny homes while longer term solutions are developed.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment works with local councils and community housing providers to reduce barriers to the provision of meanwhile use, social and affordable housing.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment consults with local councils on ways to speed up the planning approval process for meanwhile use.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment works with community housing providers and local councils to address policy barriers that hinder the use of government land for social and affordable housing.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment reviews data on vacant private dwellings and considers reforms to maximise the use of unoccupied dwellings.
The Mercy Foundation’s submission cautioned the Committee about the use of stop-gap, short term and transitional forms of housing, especially for older women who require secure, permanent, affordable and appropriate housing to age in place well and remain in their community. People experiencing chronic homelessness require permanent housing and access to services so that they can lay down roots, look to the future and address any challenges they may face. Families need an affordable, appropriate and secure home to thrive.