Grattan: NRAS “expensive, inefficient, and poorly targeted”

KEY POINTS … On why the NRAS failed and more …

-because NRAS developers who ‘grandfathered’ dwellings receive about $11,000 of public money each year

-not targeted at the most needy

-it didn’t increase the supply of housing by much, if at all

-providing tax incentives for affordable housing is slow and burdensome

NRAS began in 2008 at the height of the GFC but construction took off only after 2013 when housing was booming

governments should build more social housing; for those at risk of homelessness

-boost Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 40 per cent; index it to changes in rents

RATHER than continue to serve developers by stomping all over Sydney Communities with “higher density growth” … build social housing on Government land sites; diversify housing types to suit the elderly, singles and families

AND obviously desist with high immigration and Visa Manipulation … the solution to overdevelopment, congestion, inadequate infrastructure and ‘foreign interference’!

FAR more effective than “fixing planning rules”.*

Grattan: NRAS “expensive, inefficient, and poorly targeted”

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Property

September 9, 2019 | 4 comments

New Grattan Institute research to be presented at the UNSW Social Policy Conference in Sydney today shows that restoring the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) won’t help because NRAS was expensive, inefficient, and poorly targeted.

Other policies, such as investing in social housing and increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance, are better ways to help low-income earners cope with high housing costs:

What was NRAS?

NRAS was a Rudd-era policy that paid incentives to property developers and community housing organisations that built new dwellings and rented them out to eligible tenants at 20 per cent below market rents for 10 years.

The Abbott Government axed the scheme in 2014. The Department of Social Services estimates the whole-of-life cost of the scheme to the Commonwealth at $3.1 billion, with the final payments to be made in 2026-27.

Labor promised to introduce a new NRAS program if it won the 2019 federal election. Now advocates of affordable housing are calling on the Morrison Government to reinstate the scheme.

*Here’s why it shouldn’t happen.

*NRAS was poor value for money

The value of the NRAS subsidy was set much higher than it needed to be. NRAS developers who have ‘grandfathered’ dwellings still on the program receive about $11,000 of public money each year (the subsidy was set originally at $8,000). In exchange, the government ‘bought’ new dwellings that were rented out at a 20 per cent discount to eligible tenants in that year.

The problem is, $11,000 is much more money than the developers need to cover the rental discount received by tenants. In 2016, the value of a 20 per cent rental discount was just under $4,000 a year in the typical suburb in which NRAS properties were built. The leftover value of the subsidy – about $7,000 a year – was essentially a windfall gain for developers.

We estimate that NRAS provided windfall gains to private developers of at least $1 billion, or roughly one-third of total cost of the scheme.

Community housing providers also received windfall gains although they are likely to have reinvested the funds into more affordable housing or a deeper rental discount to tenants.

The cost of the scheme was also much too high because the subsidy didn’t vary depending on the location or type of dwelling: the same subsidy was offered for a one-bedroom apartment or a four-bedroom home in the same location.

*Not surprisingly, the scheme ultimately funded a lot of small, cheap-to-build apartments.

Of course, the fact that NRAS led to the construction of many smaller dwellings is not a problem in itself. After all, there is a severe shortage of smaller one- and two-bedroom homes affordable to low-income Australians.

And the existing social housing stock appears under-utilised: 60 per cent of social housing dwellings having at least one spare bedroom. But it is clear that governments got particularly poor value-for-money where NRAS subsidies were used to construct smaller dwellings.

NRAS didn’t help people who needed the most support

The eligibility criteria for NRAS properties were far too loose. An individual can qualify to live in one of the NRAS dwellings left on the scheme with an income of up to $50,000, higher than median income in Australia, and a couple can qualify if their household income is below $70,000. That means about half of all Australian households that rent qualify to live in an NRAS-subsidised home.

Even though NRAS was much less targeted than Commonwealth Rent Assistance, it cost far more. The annual cost of making an affordable home available through NRAS – $11,000 a year – is more than three times the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance for a single adult. About half of these NRAS-eligible households would not be eligible for Commonwealth Rent Assistance because their incomes are too high.

And NRAS housing does not appear to have been particularly well targeted at the most needy. Just one-third of the households living in an NRAS home in 2016 had gross household incomes below $30,000 a year, whereas one-third had incomes above $50,000 a year.

NRAS didn’t increase the supply of housing by much, if at all

There’s little evidence that NRAS led to more housing than would have been built anyway.

Government subsidies don’t create additional housing if they crowd out other private development. Crowding out is more likely when supply is already constrained, as it is in major Australian cities where land-use planning rules prevent greater density in established suburbs. International research confirms that affordable housing tends to crowd out the private market.

Testimonials claim NRAS created substantial new supply.5 But there is little definitive evidence that NRAS added substantially to housing construction. A 2016 report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) concluded that NRAS did boost supply, but conceded in the fine print that it isn’t possible to determine whether the extra dwellings were truly additional.6 In evidence to the 2015 Senate Economics Committee inquiry into housing affordability, a Department of Social Services representative said NRAS ‘certainly reduced the rent for the houses in the scheme … however, it was difficult to determine whether NRAS had succeeded as a supply-side measure’.

*Nor was NRAS an effective economic stimulus, because providing tax incentives for affordable housing development is both slow and administratively burdensome. NRAS began in 2008 at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, but NRAS construction took off only after 2013, by which time housing construction was already booming.

But there are better ways to house low-income Australians

Of course NRAS could be done differently, but there are inherent problems with government schemes to subsidise the supply of affordable housing: they inevitably mean fewer funds are available to help other households in greater need.

Instead of reinstating NRAS, state and Commonwealth governments should focus on policies that will do the most (at least cost) to better house low-income Australians.

*As a priority governments should build more social, rather than affordable housing, and target it at people at serious risk of becoming homeless.

*The best Australian evidence shows that social housing substantially reduces tenants’ risk of homelessness.

*But Australia’s stagnating social housing stock means there is little ‘flow’ of social housing available for people whose lives take a big turn for the worse.

*In particular, the Morrison Government should repeat another Rudd-era policy, the Social Housing Initiative, under which 20,000 social housing units were built and another 80,000 refurbished over two years, at a cost of $5.6 billion. The economic hit was immediate: construction approvals spiked within 12 months of the announcement.

A repeat today would provide a more effective boost to housing construction than NRAS.

Boosting Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 40 per cent, and indexing it to changes in rents typically paid by people receiving income support, would be a fairer and more cost-effective way to help reduce financial stress and poverty among poorer renters. Rents won’t change much since only some of the extra income will be spent on housing.

The states should fix planning rules that prevent more homes being built in inner and middle-ring suburbs of our largest cities, to make housing cheaper to buy or rent. And the states should reforming tenancy rules, to make renting more secure.

There is a powerful case for governments to do more to help house low-income Australians. But unless we learn from past mistakes, we will wind up with another expensive housing policy that does little to help those who most need that support.

*Good report, except that it ignores the obvious solution of slashing immigration to take the pressure off supply. This would be far more effective than “fixing planning rules”.*

Photo Domain: Developments like this rob R2 zone residents of their amenity; what they have paid for!

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/09/grattan-nras-expensive-inefficient-and-poorly-targeted/

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HAVE SOCIAL HOUSING LEVELS FALLEN TO HISTORIC LOWS? … Cough … cough …

VERDICT: The claim is in the Ballpark!

KEY POINTS …

-Social Housing is rental housing funded or partly funded by government; owned or managed by government or a not for profit, or non-government organisation

-includes four main types of accommodation:

.public housing; managed by state and territory housing authorities

.state owned and managed Indigenous housing

.community housing, rental housing

.Indigenous community housing

-Aust. Inst Health and Welfare 2017-18 more than 800,000 Australians live in social housing; in 400,000 dwellings

-the majority, 72% live in government owned public housing; 20% live in community housing, 4% in Indigenous community housing, 3% in State-owned Indigenous Housing; total 99%

PERHAPS the sell-off of vast Public Housing estates to developers for private development have negatively impacted the dwelling stock … how can the redevelopment catch up to the losses?

Also with high immigration both the competition for housing and the cost of housing escalated … rendering more Australian people homeless!

Have social housing levels fallen to historic lows?

RMIT ABC Fact Check

12 AUGUST 2019

housing flat with a protest sign which reads "Save our social housing millers point"  the claim is in the ballpark

PHOTO: Chief executive of advocacy group National Shelter, Adrian Pisarski, says that social housing levels in Australia have dropped from a high in 1991 to a low today. (ABC News: Tiger Webb)

The claim

Australia’s recently-appointed Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services Luke Howarth has identified emergency accommodation as the Government’s priority for tackling homelessness in Australia, despite calls from lord mayors and advocacy groups for a focus on one of the causes of the problem: housing affordability.

Chief executive of advocacy group National Shelter, Adrian Pisarski, told RN Breakfast that while there is a need for more emergency accommodation, systemic issues in the housing market must also be addressed.

“We have a very deep and severe housing problem in Australia, and it is the social housing end of it that we have been missing out on.”

“We have dropped our social housing levels from a high in 1991 of 7.1 per cent to a low now of 4.2 per cent and falling,” Mr Pisarski said.

If we don’t address the problems in the housing system, we will never solve homelessness.”

Have social housing levels in Australia dropped from a high of 7.1 per cent in 1991 to a low of 4.2 per cent today?

RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Mr Pisarski’s claim is in the ballpark.

There are multiple ways of measuring social housing levels in Australia.

Fact Check examined data published by federal government agencies the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Productivity Commission, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as well the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and other sources.

Housing commission flats in Lygon Street, Carlton.

PHOTO: Housing commission flats in Lygon Street, Carlton. (ABC News: Margaret Burin)

Mr Pisarski quoted data published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute which shows the proportion of public and community housing as a proportion of all Australian households was 7.1 per cent in 1991, and 4.2 per cent in 2016.

The figure of 7.1 per cent is higher than census data and other estimates for that year.

The latest AIHW data, which includes all four main types of social housing and is drawn from state and territory government administrative data, shows that in 2017-18, there were 4.6 social housing dwellings per 100 households in Australia.

While making comparisons across the decades is difficult, the body of data suggests the early ’90s was a high point for social housing levels in Australia, and that the levels now are historically low.

What is social housing?

Social housing is rental housing that is funded or partly funded by government, and owned or managed by the Government or a not-for-profit or non-government organisation.

It is set aside for Australians who have difficulty accessing housing in the private market.

This includes people who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, people living with a disability, those experiencing family and domestic violence, low-income families and Indigenous households.

Tenants in social housing pay rent that is lower than market value, with the remainder subsidised.

Currong Apartments at Reid are former housing commission flats slated for redevelopment. May 2013.

PHOTO: Social housing is set aside for Australians who have difficulty accessing housing in the private market. (ABC News: Clarissa Thorpe )

Commonwealth funding for social housing is provided to state and territory governments through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, with state and territory governments given primary responsibility for delivering the services.

The term “social housing” includes four main types of accommodation:

  • Public housing: dwellings owned (or leased) and managed by state and territory housing authorities.
  • State owned and managed Indigenous housing: dwellings owned and managed by state and territory housing authorities that are allocated only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tenants, including dwellings managed by government Indigenous housing agencies.
  • Community housing: rental housing managed by community-based organisations that lease properties from government or receive some form of government funding (though some are entirely self-funded).
  • Indigenous community housing: dwellings owned or leased and managed by Indigenous organisations and community councils. These can also include dwellings funded or managed by government.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017-18 more than 800,000 Australians live in social housing, in more than 400,000 dwellings across the country.

The majority — 72 per cent live in government owned and managed public housing, while 20 per cent live in community housing, 4 per cent in Indigenous community housing and 3 per cent in state owned and managed Indigenous housing. (Total equals 99 per cent due to rounding).

Assessing the claim

Social housing levels can be measured in a number of ways. A couple of definitions you’ll need to know:

  • A social housing “household” can be a single person, or a group of two or more people who usually reside in the same dwelling and share the cost of food and other living essentials.
  • A “dwelling” is the structure, or space within a structure, where the person or group of people live — whether a house, unit or apartment, caravan or tent.

Fact Check examined figures from a range of official sources, focusing on social housing households and dwellings measured as a proportion of total households and occupied private dwellings in Australia, rather than raw numbers, to account for population growth.

The Commonwealth Government first granted funding to the states for the provision of housing in 1945.

However, census counts of government tenancies were first published in the 1954 census, so Fact Check has taken that as the starting point for assessing the high and low elements of the claim.

The entrance to the Sirius building

PHOTO: The entrance to the iconic Sirius building in Sydney which was formerly used for social housing. (ABC RN: Tiger Webb)

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data

The AIHW (a federal government agency) publishes social housing statistics drawn from administrative data provided by state and territory governments.

The data includes public and community housing, as well as Indigenous community housing and state owned and managed Indigenous housing.

The latest publicly available AIHW data shows that in 2017-18, there were 4.6 social housing dwellings for every 100 households in Australia.

This was a drop from 5.1 per cent in 2007-08 (the earliest publicly available data in this series).

EMBED: Historical data on social housing from AIHW.

While the AIHW data can’t be used to assess the “high in 1991” aspect of the claim, it does show that social housing has fallen into the range of 4 per cent.

Historical census data supports the narrative

To look further back, Fact Check referred to Australian Bureau of Statistics census data from 1954, the first census to count tenants living in governmental housing, to 2016.

Changes to the scope of information collected, differences in the definitions used and presentation of the data over the decades, as well as the self-reported nature of the survey, mean it’s not a perfect measure for this purpose.

However, the data that is available does support the assertion that 1991 was a high point, and recent years a low point, for social housing levels in Australia.

EMBED: Historical data on social housing from the census.

In the Survey of Income and Housing, the ABS also publishes data on the proportion of households renting from state and territory housing authorities, from a selection of 15 years between 1994–95 and 2017–18.

This data excludes public housing households in very remote areas, and doesn’t include community housing, so it is not representative of all social housing.

What the remaining data does show is a fall in the proportion of households renting from state and territory authorities, from a high of 6 per cent in 1995-96 to a low of 3.1 per cent in 2017-18.

EMBED: Historical data on social housing from the Survey of Income and Housing.

Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute data

In response to Fact Check’s request for sources to support his claim, Mr Pisarski provided a 2017 research brief published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), a national research network.

The figures, as quoted by Mr Pisarski, show public housing alone accounting for 7.1 per cent of all households in Australia in 1991, falling to 4.2 per cent (including both public and community housing) in 2016.

The AHURI data refers only to public and community housing, omitting Indigenous community housing and state owned and managed Indigenous community housing, which according to the AIHW accounted for around 7 per cent of social housing in 2017-18.

The AHURI data is also based on census data, which is based on self-reported answers from householders, as opposed to AIHW and Productivity Commission data, which is drawn from government administrative data.

The figure of 7.1 per cent was higher than the census data (at 5.6 per cent), and experts told Fact Check it was higher than their own estimates.

EMBED: Historical data on social housing from AHURI.

Are social housing levels ‘falling’?

It is fair to say that based on the datasets presented above, there has been a continuing downward trend in social housing levels since 1991.

Judith Yates, an honorary associate in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney, told Fact Check the figures may continue to fall.

“On the basis of current household projections, it is quite possible that the estimate of 4.2 per cent will not be the lowest point reached unless there is a dramatic reversal in the current trend of net new additions to the social housing stock,” Dr Yates said.

“Unless current social housing production increases considerably, it is reasonable to say that its share will continue to fall.”

*Carmela Chivers, an associate at the Grattan Institute, told Fact Check the stock of social housing has “barely grown in 20 years, while Australia’s population has increased by 33 per cent“.

*Terry Burke, Professor of Housing Studies at Swinburne University Centre for Urban Transitions, told Fact Check the “rate of investment in social housing — as either public or community housing — hasn’t kept pace with the overall growth of population or of the total dwelling stock”.

The transfer of public housing to community housing

The decline has been particularly prominent for public housing — accommodation owned and managed by state and territory governments — over the last decade.

*In addition to a proportional decrease, Productivity Commission data shows there has been a decrease in the raw number of public housing dwellings, from around 362,000 in 1996-97 to 316,000 in 2017-18.

*Part of this decline has been offset by an increase in community housing, with the number of dwellings in that sector rising from around 15,000 in 1996-97 to around 88,000 in 2017-18.

*This partly reflects the transfer of some public housing stock to the community housing sector, in line with changes in government policy, as well as new growth in community housing stock.

EMBED: Historical data on social housing from PC.

Professor Burke of Swinburne University told Fact Check that “community housing is now seen as the future of the social housing sector, and as such the growth sector”.

*“Unlike public housing, community housing agencies can access Commonwealth Rent Assistance.”

“This means community housing agencies have a higher income stream from rent than public housing.”

Supply not keeping up with demand

*As of 30 June 2018, there were more than 140,000 applicants on the waiting list for public housing, and close to 9,000 applicants on the waiting list for state owned and managed Indigenous dwellings.

In June 2017, there were more than 38,000 applicants on the waiting list for mainstream community housing. Recent figures for Indigenous community housing were unavailable.

People may be on more than one waitlist, so these numbers may be an overestimate of the total.

However, the figures still suggest high numbers of Australians in need of social housing, with around 50,000 people (based on 2017 and 2018 figures) considered in “greatest need” — including people who are already homeless, at imminent risk of homelessness, or whose life or safety is at risk in their current accommodation.

Principal researcher: Natasha Grivas

factcheck@rmit.edu.au

Sources

housing flat with a protest sign which reads "Save our social housing millers point"  the claim is in the ballpark

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-12/fact-check-social-housing-lowest-level/11403298

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ONE DAY … WOMEN WAKE UP AND REALISE THEY CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT ANYMORE!

WE had a more egalitarian society in Australia … 

FROM THE COMMENTS …

But this has been largely eroded by Liberal policies … written to benefit the Top End of Town … and their aspirants

… high immigration and competition for housing escalating the cost of housing … the consequences of which are spelt out in this article, and in NSW led to …

-the sell off of Our Public Housing Estates to developers for private redevelopment

-job cuts disproportionately affecting women esp. on the entry level of public service; more readily disposed of

.later to restore the positions with replacements

.rendering some former public servants homeless

WHERE was the accountability?

Another commentator questioned that it was ‘Australia’s fault’ … that the responsibility shifts from the local to the Federal Government …

Well yes, it does because of government policies … and the ramifications

COULD it be that the violent behaviour is exacerbated by policies whereby:

-employees including professionals are subject to efficiencies, restructuring

.some workers subject to as many as 3 or more job restructures!

.redundancies, job cuts ensue

the lowest wages growth; insecure work

-with little funds left after the cost of housing

OPINION

One day, women wake up and realise they can’t live like that anymore

By Jenny Smith

9 AUGUST 2019

View all comments

You’re a young mum with three kids. The abuse from your partner is getting worse. One day you wake up and you realise you can’t live like this anymore and neither can your kids.

You ask for help at your local specialist homelessness service, but all the crisis accommodation is full and their hands are tied. The only emergency option left is a seedy motel.

'One day you wake up and you realise you can’t live like this anymore.'
‘One day you wake up and you realise you can’t live like this anymore.’CREDIT:SHUTTERSTOCK

You don’t have cooking facilities for meals. You don’t have a car or money for public transport, but even if you did, you’re an hour’s drive from the kids’ school and daycare.

This is a picture we should not be seeing, but still do, all too often. The reality is that Australia is failing women such as this who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our aunties. These are the women who care for us throughout our lives, but too many of them are being let down by the system when they need support the most.

Last year, specialist homelessness services nationally assisted 121,100 clients who had experienced domestic and family violence. This means family violence is a reality for more than four out of 10 clients.

This number was driven upwards by increases in Victoria and New South Wales.

In New South Wales the number of clients who had experienced family violence rose by 4 per cent to 26,630. In Victoria the same number grew by 13 per cent to 56,724. Almost all of the adults were female and more than a third were under 18.

Many younger women are also facing homelessness, fleeing family situations that are unsafe or leaving out-of-home care straight into homelessness.

Too often they don’t have any option other than a rooming house or to take a room where the rent is cheap, but sex is part of the deal. This is not a Hollywood movie about overcoming adversity, where we all get to enjoy the heartwarming happy ending. This is the grim reality for far too many women in this country.

Of those nationally who experienced family violence and were already homeless but sought help from homelessness services, just over half were still homeless at the end of the process. It’s hard to accept. More than half.

While the bulk of women asking for help were aged 25 to 34, we also know that homelessness is affecting women across the life cycle.

After years of perhaps caring for children or other family members, being paid less than men when working and inevitably not having the safety net of decent superannuation, women over 55 make up the fastest growing demographic group experiencing homeless.

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HOMELESSNESS

‘They can be safe again’: Wayside Chapel seeks to raise $1.2 million as more homeless women seek help

Every day we read the headlines in the newspaper about the heat of rental markets in the big cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne. Social security payments simply do not represent any sort of “safety net” at any level in relation to costs of living, especially housing.

Rental markets are mostly unaffordable to those on middle-incomes, let alone someone on Newstart or receiving single parenting payments. Indeed, current campaigns begging the federal government to lift Newstart (at the very least) above the poverty line, are both urgent and extremely timely.
Motels and crisis accommodation are packed to the rafters due to bottlenecks in the system, because there’s nowhere to move on to. This does not count as giving women and children a home.

Homelessness is not just rooflessness.

Living in a motel or accommodation designed for a short stay does not alleviate the trauma to your kids of being without a home. Not being able to cook a meal, having to move far away from your supports, friends and family, your kids’ school and their mates, these are the realities of what Australian women are facing when they end up without a home.

Without national strategy and supporting state and territory-based strategies to end homelessness, this problem will not get better.

*It will continue to get worse at a faster rate as the population increases, inflation soars and property markets continue to be impenetrable.

*The cornerstone of these strategies must be more social housing. We cannot house people without homes. Homes that are safe, appropriate and affordable.

*At the intersection of poverty and domestic violence is the almost inevitable outcome of homelessness. The stark reality is that we are failing women and now, during National Homelessness Week, we need to raise our voices and say this is not okay on any level, whether human, economic, political or otherwise.

Jenny Smith is CEO at Council to Homeless Persons

'One day you wake up and you realise you can’t live like this anymore.'

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/one-day-women-wake-up-and-realise-they-can-t-live-like-that-anymore-20190808-p52far.html#comments

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THE ECCENTRIC BIRDMAN WHO’S BEATING AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST LANDLORD

THE problem is … this is likely a skirmish …

IS the real battle happening elsewhere? Like in boardrooms and cabinet offices … about how efficiently can the public sector divest themselves of assets in the inner city suburbs, and justify saying they are spending the proceeds elsewhere?

DO we notice there’s no mention of people, social responsibility, community and reducing the backlog of the housing wait list?

The eccentric birdman who’s beating Australia’s biggest landlord

Background Briefing By Mario Christodoulou and Scott Mitchell

10 AUGUST 2019

A man entering a coffee shop, he is holding a bright green parrot on his hand and reaching up to put the bird on a perch.

PHOTO: Caesar, a bright green parrot, accompanies Mr Gawronski to his meetings. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

Peter “Pierre” Gawronski, a public housing tenant, was summoned to a meeting with NSW housing officials last week. He arrived with Caesar, a rainforest parrot, on his shoulder.

Key points

  • Peter Gawronski has won at least 10 cases at tribunal in the past three years
  • Public housing blocks like his have recently been sold off in inner-city Sydney
  • David Bott, another housing tenant, received an electric shock but had to wait 14 years for the problem to be fully fixed

*“It’s all right, he won’t bite you,” Mr Gawronski told the officials, trying to put everyone at ease.

*Caesar didn’t bite. Instead, he ambled across the table, up and onto the shoulders of one of the housing officials, and opened his peach-yellow beak and regurgitated his breakfast onto the hand of one of the men sitting opposite.

Mr Gawronski shuffled in his seat. “He actually likes you, it’s a term of endearment,” he said.

Recently, the so-called “birdman” has become known for more than just Caesar. He’s won at least 10 legal actions against the NSW Land and Housing Corporation in three years at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Mr Gawronski, a public housing tenant, standing in his apartment. A collection of his art is behind him on the wall.

PHOTO: The inside of Mr Gawronski’s apartment is full of his art and documents from his many cases. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

*Those orders include fixing a rat problem, cleaning up rubbish, mending gas leaks, repairing sewerage lines and, along the way, collecting more than $4,300 in compensation.

Listen to The Birdman of Surrey Hills on Background Briefing.

He accomplished this while representing himself, with no computer, no legal training, and armed only with a high school education.

Tenants are very reluctant to actually say anything to housing, but because I walk around with Caesar on my shoulder everyone speaks to me — they fall in love with Caesar, he charms them and they’ll tell me everything,” he said.

A photo of several brick apartment blocks, with a gum tree out the front. These are public housing commission.

PHOTO: Disputes about Mr Gawronskis housing block have frequently ended up in front of a tribunal. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

His actions have resulted in real change for his neighbours. Earlier this year, the housing department was ordered to undertake a full review of the waste management on the site and is now considering overhauling garbage disposal at the 70-year-old buildings.

Prosecuting a case can prove costly for many public housing tenants, according to Leo Patterson Ross, a policy officer from the Tenants Union of NSW.

“A tenant in public housing is an individual going up against the largest landlord in Australia,” he said.

A man sits on a bright purple couch looking at a folder of documents. He has bright orange woollen gloves on.

PHOTO: He has no legal training and only a high school education, but he’s won a series of tribunal decisions. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

“The ability to address an issue in an adversarial legal context is clearly dampened by that, by that imbalance in resources.”

*Public housing tenants have had to take it upon themselves to mount lengthy legal battles to get simple repairs done.

Tenant electrified in his shower

*David Bott was standing naked in the shower of his public housing unit when his arm brushed against the metal handrail.

Next thing, he was catapulted across the room.

“It was like being hit with a two-by-four in the head,” he said.

David bott standing in the bathroom where he got an electric shock.

PHOTO: David Bott says the problem that led to him receiving an electric shock would have been easily fixed. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

When he woke up, he was confused and tangled in the shower curtain with a hole in his elbow. He’d received a severe electric shock.

Water leaks had touched live wires and electrified the handrail.

Mr Bott was furious. He had told his landlord about the water leaks and little had been done.

*It took the department another 14 years to finally fix the problem. In total, he said he complained around 20 times over those years, even taking his cases to NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and getting orders against the department.

“Realistically it would have been far cheaper for me to pay a building crew to come in and fix my property,” he said.

*But even the tribunal orders failed to make the department fix the problem. Mr Bott eventually resorted to pursuing the department for contempt.

A man with glasses looks at a folder full of documents.

PHOTO: David Bott’s house is filled with folders of documents from his cases against Housing NSW. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

*In a 2017 preliminary hearing, the housing department was found to be in breach of tribunal orders and remained in breach, even during the tribunal hearings.

The tribunal found David Bott had shown “saintly restraint” over 14 years of making complaints.

*Following the hearing, Mr Bott said the department sprung into action. It completed most of the repairs, changed its internal processes and issued a lengthy apology to Mr Bott.

This was enough to convince the tribunal to “vacate” its decision on the contempt charges.

“To actually follow this process through takes hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of detailed note-taking, of researching past cases: it’s just not something the average person can do.”

*These days Mr Bott passes on what he’s learned to others who decide to take on the housing department, including Pierre Gawronski.

Pierre’s grand plan

*Many people living in public housing have troubled pasts. He first entered housing more than 20 years ago, after a painful intestinal condition made him unable to work.

He said he doesn’t have much family and before his health issues, floated from job to job.

A man in a scarf and flat cap is smiling with a coffee in his hand.

PHOTO: Mr Gawronski has a chequered history, but hopes to keep winning victories on behalf of tenants. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

“I couldn’t breathe in captivity unfortunately and the closest I’m going to have to children or family are my birds,” he said.

He admitted he has had run-ins with the law including assault and drug charges from the 1980s and another assault charge just two years ago, after an argument with a neighbour.

He has also clashed with housing officials, receiving two warning letters, including one for threatening an officer — an allegation he denies.

“I’ve never been aggressive once, I’ve never ever threatened them,” he said.

Mr Gawronski’s biggest fear is that his home will be taken away from him. His estate, which sits in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the hands of the right developer.

In recent years, the NSW Government has resorted to selling off ageing inner-city public housing to raise money and build new, modern, housing.

Earlier this year, the Sirius building — a former public housing block in The Rocks — was sold for $150 million. In the nearby waterfront suburb of Millers Point, 189 public housing properties have been sold for a combined $600 million.

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice, responsible for housing, insist there are no plans to sell Mr Gawronski’s estate.

Mr Gawronski sits by the side of his apartment block with a parrot on his shoulder waving at a passer-by.

PHOTO: A rainbow lorikeet named Mary is another member of Mr Gawronski’s flock. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)

Deputy Secretary Paul Vevers told the ABC his department is also open to speaking to Mr Gawronski about his concerns.

“We’re very willing to talk to him, we talk to him a great deal,” he said.

* “We don’t feel it is necessary for him to go through the tribunal to resolve some of the matters,”

Mr Gawronski hopes his efforts to force the department to keep the building in good condition will prevent the block from eventually being sold off.

“If they spend millions of dollars bringing it up to 21st-century standards, then there is no argument they can put forth for knocking these buildings down,” he said.

But his clashes with housing have left him feeling unwelcome.

“I don’t think they feel we are worthy to be on this land anymore,” he said.

Do you know more? contact christodoulou.mario@abc.net.au

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-10/the-birdman-versus-the-department/11396674

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‘I JUST EXIST’: EX-TEACHER SAYS NEWSTART HAS MADE HER HOMELESS

KEY POINTS …

-finding a hotel room, or a permanent rental impossible on $21.30 a day after commitments

-over 55s largest group on Newstart; 173,196 people rely on $39 a day

-seeks ‘house sitting’ opportunities

-sleeping in her car compounds health issues

SINCE 2011 NSW Guvmint has sold off much of NSW Public Housing estates for private redevelopment … more than 10 years for those on the waiting list

‘I just exist’: Ex-teacher says Newstart has made her homeless

Karryn Smith has been living in her car for more than two years. Photo: Karryn Smith

Christiane Barro

Christiane Barro@BarroChristiane

COMMENT

Newstart recipient Karryn Smith, 58, considers herself “one of the lucky ones”, yet the former school teacher is living out of her car.

Every night, Ms Smith searches for somewhere safe to park, and with any luck, will find a spot near a public toilet that keeps its doors unlocked overnight.

Public showers are a “rare” find, so she’ll sometimes go without.

Finding a comfortable hotel, let alone a permanent rental, has been impossible on just $20 a day.

“At the moment, I don’t see a future. You hear of people they find dead and with nobody there, I sort of think, is that how I’m going to end up?” Ms Smith said.

“There’s nothing that you can look forward to, being in my situation. You just sort of exist I guess.”

Ms Smith shared her tragic story with The New Daily, as pressure continued to mount on the Morrison government to lift the dole payment by $75 a week amid evidence Newstart recipients are struggling to survive.

Over-55s are the largest single group of Australians on Newstart, with 173,196 people relying on just $39 a day, recent data has shown.

This week, former Nationals Senator John Williams said older unemployed workers deserve an increase to their meagre allowance due to limited job opportunities.

Of the $570.70 she receives fortnightly, Ms Smith pays $167.50 to keep her belongings in storage and sets aside $22.50 for her monthly phone bill and $82.50 for credit card repayments.

That leaves her with just $21.30 a day for food and other expenses.

Some days she’ll have nothing more than a banana and veggie pie with some milk. Other times, she’ll buy a packet of muesli bars to last her a few days.

“I can’t afford to rent and eat on Newstart. So the only way to live within my means has been living out of a car,” she told The New Daily.

The single parent from South Australia had been living with her son but after he moved overseas for a job, Ms Smith could no longer afford the rent.

She spent her life savings on sharing with different flatmates but that money eventually depleted.

Ms Smith said surviving on the Newstart allowance meant she had to forgo housing.

“I’ve been trying to get myself some shelter by doing house sittings,” she said.

After more than two years of sleeping rough in her car, Ms Smith is accustomed to a persistent back ache and swelling in her legs, ankles and feet.

The inside of Ms Smith’s car. Photo: Karryn Smith

She’s on the public housing waiting list, but has been advised it will be “years” before she secures a property.

In the meantime, she has travelled to Victoria, where she has had more luck with house-sitting opportunities.

Suffering from distorted vision in one eye and chronic shoulder pain, Ms Smith said she has struggled to find a job.

“Even job providers have been at a loss to advise what jobs I would be able to manage [with my ailments],” she said.

“One job provider told me I needed to apply for a certain number of jobs even if I am unable to physically do the job. That’s no help to me.”

In the winter, Ms Smith struggles to stay warm so she piles on a lot of blankets to avoid shivering through the night.

Cooling off in the summer is a much trickier task.

Ms Smith keeps the windows down to prevent her car from overheating but wakes up covered in itchy insect bites.

But she remains grateful.

“I have a car that I can get shelter from, whereas a lot of people don’t even have that.”

SOURCE: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/07/30/newstart-teacher-homeless/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20News%20-%2020190731

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PM SAYS NO TO NEWSTART RISE! HOW GOOD ARE JOBS?

YET … the jobs market is turning down … not up!

-55,000 jobseekers (who have no home or cusp of homelessness) had their welfare payments suspended despite the guvmnt saying it would include protections for the most vulnerable

SCOMO … raising Newstart is a no-brainer for both equity and the economy.

Related Article: https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/07/22/roy-morgan-estimate-unemployment-9-2-in-june/?fbclid=IwAR1_kBC4QT5LG5ZTQ40Qiz_gKMCKRxxEngiyoaEiK0G3KG0UlRPeNFhkJ1g

Cruel ScoMo rejects Newstart lift

.

Cruel ScoMo rejects Newstart lift

By Houses and Holes in Australian budgetAustralian Economy

July 19, 2019 | 58 comments

When it comes to cruelty against the unemployed, it’s hard to top the Morrison Government. Listen to lousy ScoMo today on a Newstart rise:

“The government has no plans to do that,” he said. “We will continue to increase Newstart every six months as has always been the practice.

“More importantly, for those who are on Newstart, it is about well over 90 per cent, about 99 per cent, of people who are on Newstart are actually on other forms of payments as well.

“It’s about getting people into jobs. The latest jobs figures show 20,000 additional full-time jobs.

“That’s good news, that’s great news, more jobs. How good are jobs?”

As the Budget heads back towards surplus, and with the Government pledging tens-of-billions of dollars for tax cuts, it refuses to lift Australia’s Newstart Allowance, which is about to fall to 30% below the poverty line:

The jobs market is turning down not up.

When asked in September about raising the Newstart Allowance, Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued that the Budget simply couldn’t afford it:

“I don’t think you can all of a sudden go ‘oh, let’s make whoopee’,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“It is a very expensive undertaking and there is not the room in the budget at this point to do that.”

Then in December, Morrison said that pensioners deserve a welfare increase ahead of the unemployed:

We’re for jobs. Labor’s just for welfare. I heard the other day that they are thinking of increasing the Newstart payment. Well I’ve gotta tell you. If I thought I had the money to do that, I recon I’d do that for pensioners first”.

In April, social services minister, Paul Fletcher, again dismissed calls to raise Newstart, claiming the government’s current policy is “appropriate”:

Asked if he viewed an increase to the unemployment benefit as inevitable, Fletcher told the breakfast organised by the Australian Council of Social Service (Acoss) that the payment was already indexed to the consumer price index, adding: “That’s the policy framework we have and I think it’s the appropriate policy framework”…

According to Acoss, Australia’s unemployment benefit is the lowest among OECD countries…

Meanwhile, the Morrison Government stopped welfare payments to 55,000 homeless or at-risk jobseekers in the six months to December 2018:

About 55,000 jobseekers who were without a home or on the cusp of homelessness have had their welfare payments temporarily suspended under the government’s new compliance regime, despite the Coalition saying it would include “protections for the most vulnerable”.

Updated Senate estimates figures show 55,714 homeless or at-risk people who get payments such as Newstart received a suspension between July 2018, when the system came into effect, and December 2018…

The Department of Jobs and Small Business also revealed 50,843 job seekers who had a mental illness had their payment suspended, and 48,022 single-parent job seekers received a payment suspension.

Despite claiming there was inadequate Budget room for raising Newstart, the April Budget still managed to find space for additional personal tax cuts alongside spending $75 million to allow wealthy older-Australians to make voluntary superannuation contributions without having to pass the work test, thus opening further pathways for tax minimisation:

As we keep noting, the Newstart Allowance has not increased in real terms (i.e. above the Consumer Price Index) since 1994, whereas the Pension has received significant increases:

Virtually all cross-sections of society have demanded the federal government lift Newstart, including:

  • Deloitte Access Economics senior partner Chris Richardson;
  • the Business Council of Australia;
  • Former Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry;
  • Professor Peter Saunders from UNSW;
  • Former Liberal leader, John Hewson;
  • Former Prime Minister, John Howard
  • Former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce;
  • Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos;
  • Business lobbyist, Heather Ridout;
  • independent senators Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch;
  • The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS);
  • The Salvation Army;
  • South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS); and
  • The Australian Green.

And last week, Reserve Bank governor Phil Lowe acknowledged that raising Newstart would be “good for the economy”:

Speaking at an event in Adelaide, Philip Lowe said “very low” household income growth was the reason the economy had “softened”, which has prompted the RBA to reduce interest rates to a record low of 1.25%.

Asked for his view on the role of income support levels, Lowe suggested an increase to the $277.85-a-week payment would help stimulate the economy, though it was “a matter for the government”.

“Anything at the moment that can boost income growth is good for the economy,” he said…

Acoss’s proposal to lift the payment by $75 a week would cost the federal budget $3.3bn a year, while boosting consumer spending, Deloitte said last year.

Melinda Cilento, the CEDA chief executive, said Lowe’s presentation suggested “now is as good a time as ever” for an increase to Newstart.

If boosting consumer spending is the goal, then spending $3.3 billion a year on raising Newstart by $75 a week would deliver far more ‘bang for the buck’ then gifting many billions of dollars to high income earners.

The unemployed would spend nearly every dollar they receive, whereas a significant chunk of high income tax cuts would be saved.

Raising Newstart is a no-brainer for both equity and the economy.

homeless

Photo: The Guardian

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/07/cruel-scomo-rejects-newstart-lift/

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BIG IDEAS: HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

image of homeless person's tent

IMAGE: SUFFERING FROM RENTAL STRESS CAN PUSH PEOPLE INTO HOMELESSNESS. (PETER PARKS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES )

Many low income Australians experience rental stress and can easily find themselves homeless. How do we make housing more affordable and accessible?

A ‘State of Affairs’ event presented by the Grattan Institute. Recorded on June 26, 2019

Speakers:

Adrian Pisarski – Executive Director, National Shelter

John Daley – CEO, Grattan Institute

(moderator) Scott Stephens – Religion and Ethics editor, ABC online; co-host, ‘The Minefield’, ABC RN

ON the Big Ideas programme, another discussion about HOUSING … held in Brisbane 26 June 2019 (after the Federal Election).

Largely about the …

-role of government 

-public v private

-private investors 

-social housing

AND the real inequality is now in the ‘after housing costs’ according to Grattan Institute’s John Daley …

WHILST we did not hear all of the programme … we did not pick up any mention of the impact of ‘foreign buyers’ … did we miss this? 

Somehow we doubt it … on our experience to date …

-why are foreign buyers not mentioned? 

-is there something stopping foreign buyers and their impact being discussed? 

WHY do we seem to relish in the TITLE DEEDS to Australia’s domestic housing being exported overseas?

-is self-censorship prevailing?

-are foreign buyers a taboo subject?

-why isn’t the absence of Anti-Money Laundering Legislation, and it’s role in real estate not discussed?

AUDIO: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/homelessness-and-housing-affordability/11299138

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NAROOMA’s YOUNG AND HOMELESS FORCED TO LIVE IN A TENT IN THEIR POPULAR SEA-CHANGE TOWN

THIS financial year, Anglicare has assisted more than 650 people in the Eurobodalla Shire …

Who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and staff have currently been helping 180 clients

… many more people haven’t sought help!

 

DO our Governments … in the main … care about the less well-off?

 

WHEN … some among us will say …

-you’ve failed

-not good enough

-your fault

-you need to do better

-try harder

-move on

-someone will help you, try the charities

-you need to get a better job

That’s it … blame the victims … it’s always been the Darwinists World view …

 

NAROOMA’s young and homeless forced to live in a tent in their popular sea-change town

ABC South East NSW 

19 JUNE 2019

 

 

By early June in Narooma on the New South Wales far south coast, the campgrounds around town are all but deserted.

The nights have been bitterly cold and the atmosphere is bleak, but not everyone who is still camping is there by choice.

Eighteen-year old Samantha and 24-year-old David have been living in a tent for two months after exhausting all their other accommodation options, from staying with family and friends, renting a motel room, and sleeping in their car.

“We picked the wrong month to go camping,” David joked as he put the kettle on a small butane stove.

“But at least it’s nice and quiet. There’s nearly nobody here.”

The couple have been looking for a place to rent since they moved out of home two years ago.

“We’ve been into the real estates and filled out applications, we’ve also posted on buy, swap and sell pages, and Gumtree,” Samantha said.

“Because we haven’t ever rented before, we don’t have any rental references, and we’ve also been rejected because of our ages.”

‘We’ve been asked to move on’

David has been completing the final year of his apprenticeship as a floor finisher, laying carpet, floating floors and vinyl flooring.

While he is working, Samantha has been staying at the tent with their two dogs Storm and Soxie or taking them into town.

“I get a bit scared by myself in the bush, even though I’ve got the dogs,” she said.

“We’ve been asked to move from a few spots now, and that’s scary too.

“We’re homeless as it is, and there are so many spots where we’re not allowed to camp. We’ve got nowhere to go — it sucks.”

Samantha got their first dog, Storm, three years ago after she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

“She’s always with me, I’m never without her,” she said.

“I’d rather be homeless than without my dogs.”

Young people forced out

Simon Kuestenmacher is the co-founder and director of research at The Demographics Group.

He said Narooma fits the classic population profile of a regional area where most young people move away from home to take advantage of education and employment opportunities in the city and larger regional centres.

But for young people who are struggling to establish themselves in their home towns, many are forced out by the lack of affordable rental accommodation.

“In Narooma, the population is steadily growing, with around 200 people per year moving to the area each year,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.

“But the private rental market is shrinking.

“If an area grows at a humble pace, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy a property to rent out, especially at the lower end of the spectrum.

“People that can afford to buy an investment property are better off putting their money into something else.”

 

Krystal Tritton, coordinator of Anglicare’s Homelessness Support Service in the Eurobodalla, said it was near impossible for a couple on a low income to find a private rental in Narooma or surrounding towns.

For some people, their best option has been to move out of the region.

“That’s really difficult for someone who has been lucky enough to secure an apprenticeship or has a connection to country or family, or any of those things that tie us to community,” Ms Tritton said.

“We’re seeing our youth that went through our high schools, people who’ve been here for three or four generations. And the sadness you feel when you have to send someone outside their community, it’s pretty overwhelming.”

‘Everyone looks down on you’

This financial year, Anglicare has assisted more than 650 people in the Eurobodalla Shire who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and staff have currently been helping 180 clients.

There are many more people out there who haven’t sought help.

Samantha, who has been studying for a Certificate III in Business and looking for work, said most people in town were “pretty much oblivious” to the rising tide of homelessness.

“Everyone looks down on you, like you’re bringing this on yourself. You walk around town, and feel sort of useless, to an extent,” she said.

“We have to stay in this area until David finishes his apprenticeship, that’s the only thing that’s keeping us here.

“I’ve been in Narooma my whole life. It’s a beautiful town, it’ll always be my home, but there’s nothing here.”

For now, the couple has been focussed on getting through winter, and not giving up on finding a home to rent.

“Soon, hopefully we’ll get a house, we’ll have a roof over our heads and I can keep working, then we can keep moving up from there,” David said.

“If we can get into a single rental, then get a good 12 months’ rental history, we can move on.”

“For the moment, home is this, this tent. But it’s hard to call it home.”

 

 

SOURCE:  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-19/naroomas-young-homeless-residents-forced-to-camp-in-tent/11221250

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THE HOMELESSNESS CRISIS: THE SATURDAY PAPER

Jenny Smith, Chair of Homelessness Australia when interviewed on SBS News said:

“We really need those three levels of government with leadership from the Federal Government to start to provide a supply of social housing.  The last injection we had was in the context of the GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS and around the 2008 period – that’s a long time ago!”  With a growing number of young and elderly women suffering …

Marrise Payne said the safety of women will be a priority for the Government …

*From 2011 to 2016, the number of people without stable housing in Australia increased by almost 14 per cent.

Which also happens to coincide with Federal Government policies:

-allowing developers to sell 100% of ‘new homes’ to foreign buyers

-the second tranche of the Anti-Money Laundering Legislation for the Real Estate Gatekeepers having been shelved for more than 12 years!

WHY is the Federal Government not tackling the problems whilst at the same time governments (and employers) are:

-embracing the removal of penalty rates 
-continue stripping away public ownership of assets
-refuse to stem the sale of Australian property and assets to foreign entities 

AND

-suspiciously fail to introduce further Anti-Money Laundering rules to address an underlying weakness in the structure of our economy? 

.the Scomo Government exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers as recently as October 2018!  

AND with the Housing Boom particularly in New South Wales and Victoria due to the competition from foreign buyers rendering housing unaffordable for many Incumbents! 

 

Santilla Chingaipe 
is a journalist and documentary filmmaker.

Discussions about housing affordability have frequently omitted those who are most severely affected by the crisis: people experiencing homelessness.
Advocates in the homelessness sector are calling on the government to act. By Santilla Chingaipe.

 

 

THE HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

 

Helen* moved to Melbourne from Adelaide in her late 30s for further study, excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of her. That soon changed when she realised how unaffordable the rental market was.

“I wanted to study at La Trobe, thinking I’d be easily housed because they had student accommodation and I didn’t have any real plans,” she says. “I realised quite quickly that wasn’t the case.”

Helen soon found herself moving around looking for a place to stay, instability that would see her end up in a homelessness service while struggling with mental health issues and an undiagnosed addiction. The homelessness service found Helen a place in women’s housing, but it didn’t work out.

“I couch-surfed until emergency accommodation became available and stayed there for a while,” she says. “Then got a transitional house for three months, and I moved into a bedsit, which was a better fit for me because I was in recovery.”

Helen says she had no idea she was homeless during that period.

“I didn’t make that connection because I thought, ‘I have somewhere to stay.’ I didn’t understand what the definition of being without a home was. I was also caught up with keeping up with my studies and it didn’t gel,” she adds.

Helen stayed at the bedsit for two years until a place became available that she could move into and she was relieved about finally having somewhere to call home. “I didn’t think I’d get it because I’d been knocked back for a whole range of reasons,” says Helen.

All told, the process of securing stable public housing took her about 10 years. And while things have turned around for her, an increasing number of young women are finding themselves in a similar situation. In Victoria, there are currently more than 80,000 people on the waiting list for public housing.

According to census data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2016, on any given night across Australia, 116,427 people are experiencing homelessnessnearly 46,000 of them women. And this is likely an undercount.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of Australia’s homeless population lives in Victoria, where data shows some 10,432 women are without shelter.

 

Homelessness is defined by the ABS in this way: “When a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.”

*From 2011 to 2016, the number of people without stable housing in Australia increased by almost 14 per cent.

Women over 55 now represent the fastest-growing group of people experiencing homelessness in the country.

In the wake of the killing of Melbourne woman Courtney Herron last weekend, which has brought the national spotlight onto the issue of young women experiencing homelessness in Victoria, advocates in the homelessness sector are calling for more to be done to address what they say is a nationwide housing affordability crisis.

Friends and family have painted a picture of Herron as a trusting, loving person who found herself facing mental health and drug use issues, and housing instability in her early 20s. Friends have told the media the 25-year-old was couch-surfing and sleeping rough, trying to get into public housing.

 

A long shot of a group of logs under a tall tree in a park, with a police officer standing guard.

 

“The tragic death of Courtney Herron comes in the context of a housing affordability crisis right around the country. It’s not something that is specific to Victoria,” says Jenny Smith, the chief executive of the Council to Homeless Persons and the chair of Homelessness Australia.

“The reality of it is, 288,000 different people are fronting up to our homelessness services every year and half of them are women.”

Herron’s death also comes in the context of the national issue of violence against women – she was the 20th woman killed by violence in Australia this year, according to the Counting Dead Women project.

Jeanette Large is the chief executive of Women’s Property Initiatives – an organisation that provides long-term subsidised housing for women and children in Victoria. She says that compared with the number of men, the number of women accessing homelessness services has increased at a greater rate.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 57,000 women experiencing homelessness accessed these services in 2017-18, a spike of 36 per cent from 2013-14. The increase in the number of men was 27 per cent.

Large says the majority of women affected are in the 25- to 40-year-old category, with 40 women turned away every day in Victoria.

Mary Crooks, the executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust, points to the fast-growing number of older women experiencing homelessness.

“There’s also an increase in the numbers of older women – women in their 50s, 60s, and beyond – and there are predictions that may well increase unless there are substantial interventions,” she says.

Crooks says there are many intersecting factors, including the large proportion of women who are relatively economically insecure.

“If you don’t have any buffer in savings or superannuation, all it takes is for one or two things to go pear-shaped and you’re down a slippery slope.”

Domestic violence also plays a role, as does underinvestment in public and social housing by successive governments.

 

Woman's hands clasped.

PHOTO: Domestic violence forced ‘Julia’ out of her home. (ABC News: Phoebe Hosier)

“We have relied on decades-old public housing, where the stock hasn’t increased substantially. But we are really lagging in social housing, lagging in co-operative models of housing,” says Crooks. “When older women or younger women need safe housing they don’t necessarily need three- or four-bedroomed houses. There’s a lot more imagination in investment required in social housing [that’s] fit for purpose, instead of following an old formula.”

Smith agrees with Crooks, but argues the debate around housing affordability is dominated by discourse about first-home owners and investors and neglects those on lower incomes.

“The market in Australia is complex and affects ordinary people. Then we have to recognise that through the last three decades of growth in our country the private property development industry has not taken care of people on low incomes and government has got out of [the] business of providing social housing,” she says.

 

4304c93b-6cbe-4945-b4ec-03f8bb42fd69

Photo: The Urban Developer. Ivanhoe Place was an architect designed estate for a mere 25 years when it was sold off for private development. 3500 dwellings are planned of which 740 dwellings include affordable housing and 259 social homes; to be developed over 10 years

 

Smith says many people are quick to point to social problems with individuals to explain homelessness.

“We really struggle to connect the fact that housing is just not affordable to people on low incomes with our homelessness crisis. We seem to move more quickly to ‘is it a problem associated with a complexity with the person we’re looking at? A mental health problem or a drug and alcohol problem?’ – those sorts of complexities, rather than recognise that those difficulties are likely to make you poor,” she adds.

After spending several years homeless herself, Helen agrees that there are many misconceptions about why people end up without stable housing.

“I had these [mental health and addiction] issues before I found myself homeless, but it escalated because of that,” she says.

Helen says many people experiencing homelessness are usually struggling with other social problems.

“A lot of the times, housing is seen by itself. It’s not connected to your health and mental wellbeing. Those people deemed without a home for a long time have more than one issue going on. It’s not just they don’t have anywhere to live,” she says.

Smith says it is a misunderstanding that social housing is a state government issue.

She argues that all levels of government need to play a role in addressing the housing crisis.

“Our history in producing social housing has always been that the federal government provides that funding to the states and territories and usually asks them to match it. It’s done as a partnership and then local government comes to the party by providing land or planning concessions,” says Smith.

According to the Council to Homeless Persons, social housing makes up about 5 per cent of all dwellings in Australia, while in Victoria that figure sits at 3.44 per cent.

The Victorian minister for housing, Richard Wynne, told The Saturday Paper that the Andrews Labor government has committed more than $200 million for 1000 new public housing properties, which will house 1800 people.

He said the government has also committed more than $50 million in the state budget for homelessness services.

“We know family violence is a major contributor to homelessness – so this budget invests an additional $23.9 million to prioritise women and children escaping family violence and ensure they continue to receive the housing support they need,” Wynne said.

The new funding in the Victorian budget follows on from a $45 million homelessness and rough sleepers’ package announced in 2018, aimed at putting teams of outreach workers and supportive housing teams across the state and providing additional accommodation units and onsite support.

While Smith welcomes the investment, she says it is nowhere near enough to address the issue.

“Through history, Victoria has one of the lowest proportions of social housing in the country and that investment won’t stop us slipping further behind,” she says.

And for women who are vulnerable, as Helen once was, access to long-term housing makes it easier to get their lives back on track.

“My mental health has improved,” Helen says, since finding a place to live. “It hasn’t been an easy time but … I’ve had a lot of support behind me.”

* Surname withheld for privacy.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 1, 2019 as “Home remedies”. Subscribe here.

 

 

SOURCE:  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2019/06/01/the-homelessness-crisis/15593112008238

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‘HOMELESSNESS EPIDEMIC’ SWEEPS SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE

 

 

 

“Homelessness epidemic” sweeps Sydney and Melbourne

 

By Leith van Onselen

Last year, Industry Super chief economist, Stephen Anthony, penned a detailed article in Fairfax warning of a “homelessness epidemic” in Sydney and Melbourne due to the serious lack of affordable and social housing.

 

Renters flock to an open inspection.

Renters flock to an open inspection

 

Now, a report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) estimates that the proportion of people experiencing homelessness in capital cities had increased from 48% to 63% over 2001 to 2016, concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne. From The Guardian:

 

Homelessness in cities, such as Melbourne, is increasing in areas with a shortage of affordable private rental housing.

 Homelessness in cities, such as Melbourne, is increasing in areas with a shortage of affordable private rental housing. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

The Ahuri study used census data dating back to 2001 to determine where people experiencing homelessness were living and how that has changed over time.

The problem of “rough sleeping has been transformed from a remote phenomenon to an urban phenomenon in the 15 years to 2016”, the report found.

“In 2001, roughly one-third of rough sleepers were located in capital cities, but in 2016 the share of rough sleepers in capital cities had reached nearly one-half of all rough sleepers,” the report said…

Parkinson said the study’s most “striking” finding was “the rate of overcrowding and how that is shaping a large part of homelessness growth”.

“Homelessness is rising in areas with a shortage of affordable private rental housing and higher median rents,” the study said. “This rise is most acute in capital city areas, specifically, Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne.”

The report, undertaken by researchers from Swinburne and RMIT, identifies a “corridor” in Sydney, from the inner city westward where homelessness rates are particularly high.

It includes suburbs such as Marrickville, Canterbury, Strathfield, Auburn and Fairfield.

In Melbourne, suburban homelessness splays out in all directions, including hotspots such as Dandenong in the south-east, Maribyrnong and Brimbank in the west, and Moreland and Darebin in the north, and Whitehorse in the east…

Our cities are undergoing a major structural change that is widening inequality and it’s having a spatial effect,” she said.

“There needs to be a concerted effort to address that.”

Clearly, the epic population expansions in Sydney and Melbourne, which added 1.0 million and 1.3 million people respectively to each city over the past 14, is the key driver of both cities’ housing shortfalls, escalating housing costs, and rising homelessness:

And as we know, this population growth has been driven by the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy:

With Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations projected to balloon to around 10 million in half-a-century, homelessness will only worsen:

It’s the federal government’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy that must first be stopped if a “homelessness epidemic” is to be prevented.

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