Keira Electorate Housing Affordability

Legislative Assembly Hansard – 21 June 2022

Mr RYAN PARK (Keira) (19:20): I speak on an issue that I know is important to the Temporary Speaker, the member for Sydney, having followed his private member's statements and issues that he has raised in this place. The issue of housing affordability and the housing crisis also exist within the community that I represent, the electorate of Keira. The lack of housing affordability in both the rental and home ownership markets is poorly impacting renters and buyers. The housing crisis that is being experienced is hurting people on what would be considered moderate to middle and upper incomes. A place to call home—it does not seem like such an unreasonable request. Yet, for far too many, the security of knowing they have a place that is theirs, that is safe and secure, seems out of reach.

We do not have to go too far to hear stories of what we as policymakers already know. We already know that there is a lack of stable, affordable housing. We know there is rising inequality and we know many families are experiencing mortgage stress or struggling to pay their rent. Young couples and families should have a strong sense of hope and ambition, of excitement about the future. Whether that relates to purchasing a home or finding a rental property, the goal is the same—a place to call home. That aspiration should not be a privilege but a right afforded to all of us. It is something that perhaps my generation and I have taken for granted, but for generations going forward, particularly my children's generation, it is something that will no longer be able to take for granted. It is up to those of us in the privileged position as legislators to listen to these hopeful voices and do what we can to make sure that aspiration is not wasted.

For me, having a place to call home means having a space to love in, to grow up in, even to hide in after a terrible day, a place that gives a sense of belonging. I know that all members of this place would share similar feelings about their own properties. I want to share with the House the story of a 44-year-old single mum who runs her own successful business and has a very good rental history. As reported in theIllawarra Mercury, she is now homeless, after failing to find a place for herself and her children. She was forced into emergency accommodation at a local caravan park. She attends open inspections with no less than 60 other applicants. She has applied for more than 50 properties, but because of her income she is not eligible for social housing. She is in what I call the "missing middle". She does not earn enough to afford market rent but earns too much to apply for social housing.

I hear too many stories of people living in tents or in their cars. Imagine the mental stress that those men, women and children are experiencing. Those stories are becoming all too common. They are happening across my community and across New South Wales. The social housing waitlist continues to be a substantial indicator of the lack of social housing in New South Wales. Currently, over 50,000 applicants are waiting for social housing, with those in some areas expected to be waiting for 10 years. We simply do not have enough social and affordable housing in New South Wales. Decreased home ownership will continue to place pressure on the rental market and social housing in the State.

The State Government must immediately place greater investment into social and affordable housing. We must also focus on rental and tenant rights and privileges to ensure that tenants are able to rent a property and feel as though it is their home for a long time and not what has traditionally been seen as transitional housing. We also need intervention to ensure the rental market is adequately provided with affordable rental properties. For example, when new land releases are announced, there should be affordable rental properties within those land releases. As legislators we all need to pay attention, because housing affordability and homelessness are critical issues for our society. Without urgent intervention they have long-term consequences for individuals, communities and families.