Soul- destroying, nerve wracking and horrendous

08 Aug 2023

Everybody should read this report: Waithood – the experiences of applying for and waiting for social housing 

Across Australia, there are around 175,000 households on the social housing wait list. This report portrays what applying and waiting for social housing is really like for individuals and their families.

The report discusses why people apply for social housing, the challenge of providing the documentation necessary to support a social housing application and the uncertainty of not knowing when housing may become available. It details the precarious living circumstances while waiting for housing, the toll waiting takes on health and wellbeing of both adults and children, the coping strategies people take and their views about the future.

It reminds us that the impacts of homelessness are deeply personal and traumatising. The intense instability created by homelessness impacts heavily on children, creating anxiety, poor sleep and a feeling of being chronically unsettled:

The impacts of waiting are profound. Waitees told of their financial struggles, not being able to feed themselves or their children adequately and cutting back on medication or forgoing necessary medical procedures. Waitees with disability or who were looking after a family member with disability were particularly hard hit by waiting. Many waitees felt that not having an affordable and stable home combined with the endless waiting were fundamental contributors to their poor physical and mental health. Anxiety and depression appeared to be common. Sadly, the children of waitees were often hard-hit by their situation with some having to live away from their parents or in temporary accommodation and having to constantly move. 

(page 60)

Our country urgently needs to build more social housing as quickly as possible.