The Equity Economics report ‘A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of COVID-19’ released today predicts in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, as well as Sydney City and the Inner South homelessness is set to increase by 40.5% within a year.

Homelessness in the Hunter are set to have proportionally higher increases than other parts of NSW, reflecting already high levels of homelessness and higher local increases in unemployment.

More than 10,000 people are now on the waiting list for social housing in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, with concerns this number could increase by 40 percent over the next six months.

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery says at the current rate of construction, it would take 37 years to build enough public housing properties to clear the backlog in her electorate alone.

“There’s been a long time since Government has really built specifically public housing,” Ms Hornery said. “It’s a priority, and the Government, all levels of Government, need to make sure funding public housing and building public housing, which is a great way to employ people as well, is a priority for them.” 

Ms Hornery says the current waiting times for public housing are “unacceptable” and will put thousands of vulnerable Australians at further risk.

“If you don’t have a home over your head, then you have nothing really,” Ms Hornery said. “Not only does homelessness in itself create a great deal of difficulties and problems for people, it’s terrible for children, and it also means it’s very hard for people to get jobs.”

Mark Degotardi, CEO of the Community Housing Industry Association NSW, says the housing crisis is a “looming catastrophe” which may put 88,000 families in housing stress over the next 12 months.

“Before COVID-19 community organisations and the property sector were calling for 5,000 new social housing properties a year over the next decade,” Mr Degotardi said. “That need is even more pressing now – this report shows when this recession reaches its peak, thousands of struggling families may have nowhere to go.”