Rising costs of living and a severe lack of affordable housing are pushing more and more Australians to the brink of homelessness.
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23 March 2023
| Community Housing
The last few years have seen seismic shifts in national living costs, and for the estimated 3.3 million Australians living below the poverty line, the threat of homelessness is becoming an everyday reality.
Organisations like BaptistCare are supporting people through the crisis, delivering community housing, as well as offering low-cost groceries, and financial support like No Interest Loans.
But we need help to meet the growing need for more social and affordable housing. That’s why we’re lending our voice to the call-out for heavier investment by all levels of Government into community housing, including sustainable legislation that will see more families permanently housed.
Our blog delves into the origins of the current crisis, investigates the housing deficit and its impact on everyday Australians, and explores the potential solutions currently on the table.
Community housing, an umbrella term which incorporates both ‘affordable’ and ‘social’ housing, offers a lifeline to those who are struggling financially. It prevents people from being priced out of their local area, offering permanent accommodation at an affordable rate.
Affordable housing supports people on low to moderate incomes, who are unable to keep up with sharply rising rental costs. The rates are fixed so that tenants never pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
Affordable housing can be privately or publicly owned and may be managed by the government, the private sector, or a community housing provider, such as BaptistCare HopeStreet.
‘It’s a leg up for those who have the benefit of time ahead of them,’ says Phil. ‘The capacity to earn more money in the future and get back into the private housing market.’
Social housing, on the other hand, supports those experiencing more significant disadvantage, including those who are often on the brink of homelessness.
Many tenants in social housing have a reduced capacity to earn a fixed income, such as seniors without assets, or people living with a disability that prevents them from being able to work.
Rental prices are subsidised heavily by the government, with many social housing properties managed by not-for-profit providers like BaptistCare.
The demand for community housing has, unsurprisingly, risen sharply over recent years and the need among very low and low-income households in particular, is great.
The problem is supply, and some families are waiting more than ten years for an affordable place to call home.
The immediate need is for more community housing stock, particularly in Australia’s major cities.
But we also want to help build strong and resilient communities, which can thrive despite the current crisis. We see three ways of doing this:
Not-for-profit housing providers like BaptistCare, along with private housing developers and peak bodies are advocating loudly for critical solutions that will ease the crisis.
This includes calling on the Government to mandate at least 30 percent of social and affordable housing within all new housing developments, bringing the country in line with many other first-world nations.
We’re also calling for a sustainable financial model for housing providers, one that will allow organisations like BaptistCare to continue transforming lives well into the future.
BaptistCare works collaboratively with the Community Housing Industry Association NSW, supporting high-profile campaigns which seek community support to drive meaningful change. These include:
As a registered community housing provider, BaptistCare is seeking to expand its community housing into more locations, to meet the growing demand.
This currently spans 13 locations and incorporates 650 dwellings across New South Wales, including our latest development in Carlingford, Sydney. Gimbawali Place will provide 162 affordable homes for people over the age of 55, and single-parents who are all active in the workforce and on low to moderate incomes.
But without further support from Government, significant policy changes, and other key stakeholders to develop and construct housing, we remain at full capacity, and our wait lists keep growing.
As part of our vision to build stronger communities and see everyone living well – and especially through the cost-of-living crisis – our tenants are supported the moment they enter our affordable and social housing.
We provide them with wrap-around support via our tailored support coordinators, which includes help with gaining employment, connection to local community groups, and access to affordable groceries and other necessities.
More than anything, our housing provides more than just a roof – it is safe, secure, and supportive accommodation.
"We have many families on the waitlist for our housing," says Phil. "But we do our best to help people in whatever way we can."
If you want to learn more about BaptistCare’s work in this space, or wish to access our support services, please contact us via the enquiry form below.
You can also drop into any of our HopeStreet centres for local face-to-face support with a personal case worker. Our HopeStreet staff can support with: