Advocacy, Housing

More than 18,000 social and affordable homes needed in the Northern Rivers

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on01 Aug, 2022
Tony Homlessness Week

The February and March floods have seen the need for social housing increase in the Northern Rivers, and the not-for-profit organisation, Social Futures, is calling for around 18,600 social housing and affordable houses to be built.

During Homelessness Week, Social Futures, which runs homeless support programs, has organised a petition calling on government to urgently invest in social housing.

Social Futures is also asking the community to help make 186 tiny origami homes – representing the approximate 18,600 houses needed in the area.

Social Futures homeless support workers will be in Grafton, Lismore and Tweed Heads – in partnership with The Family Centre with the petition and the tiny origami homes.

“We know this community is still in crisis, because so many people lost their homes in the floods and many of these people remain displaced,” Social Futures Chief Executive Tony Davies said.

“It is very difficult to say exactly how many people were displaced by the floods. The SES estimated that state-wide, the February and March events left more than 4,000 homes uninhabitable, the majority in the Northern Rivers,” he said.

“But even before floods, the Northern Rivers had a housing crisis, exacerbated by people fleeing locked down cities and moving to the region.

“In the Ballina, Tweed, Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas, rents increased by 20% or more during the pandemic.”

Mr Davies said that prior to the floods the UNSW City Futures Research Centre and Everbody’s Home campaign estimated the Northern Rivers had an estimated shortfall of 10,000 social housing and 5,000 affordable housing dwellings. The need for social housing increase in the Northern Rivers is a required investment for the region’s future.

“Add that to what may have been lost in the floods, and we are calling for 18,600 houses to be built,” he said.

“At the start of this year, we were experiencing a metaphorical housing storm – a vulnerable community with much need, and an extreme housing shortage, And then what happened? We were hit by a literal storm and the biggest flood the Northern Rivers has ever seen.”

Mr Davies said he was grateful that the NSW government is opening temporary modular housing villages on leased land for displaced people, but the region desperately needed more long-term affordable housing.

“We need more social housing now, like never before, and we call on the state and federal governments to deliver it, as an investment in this region’s future.

“Too many women, children, First Nations and older people are camping out, couch surfing or trying to live in the shells of damaged homes – and this community has already suffered enough.”

PHOTO: Social Futures CEO Tony Davies