Photo © Drew Rogers, Byron Bay. Young people in transitional accommodation in the Byron Bay area, October 2018. Youth at risk have a maximum of 18 months in this form of supported community housing. Demand is high and a lack of affordable housing in the area means many young people are still unable to find a secure and stable home once this accommodation ends.

Affordable & Secure Housing

Children and young people have a safe, stable and secure place to call home

The action needed

Support young people to avoid homelessness

We need to provide a variety of evidence-based housing support options to young people, including:

  • Investing in supported accommodation models such as the Youth Foyer model, Housing Plus and medium term accommodation services.
  • Further investment in intensive case management models for young people with complex needs.
  • Support to maintain tenancies.

Investment should be targeted to regions with the highest need.

Make renting secure and fair

  • Strengthen the protection for tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (‘RTA’) by removing ‘no grounds’ evictions under sections 84 and 85 of the RTA.
  • Increase investment in tenants’ advice services to strengthen security of tenancies for children and their families.

Support children and their families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness

  • Increase investment in Housing First and Assertive Outreach responses to ensure young people experiencing homelessness are housed as quickly as possible.
  • Long term and ongoing investment in Aboriginal community controlled housing providers to build capacity to deliver services, maintain existing housing stock and develop new stock.

Implement an affordable housing strategy

  • Deliver 5,000 new social housing dwellings each year until 2026. Ensure that all new stock is accessible for people with a disability and have best practice energy efficiency standards, including solar power.
  • Mandate inclusionary zoning targets of 15% for privately owned land and 30% for publicly owned land.

At the time she was issued with a “no grounds” eviction notice, Lauren was six months pregnant, with one small child and her husband temporarily between jobs. She is one of over 160,000 NSW renters who have lost or will lose their home for no reason this year.

Why it is needed

In 2016/17 approximately

people in total experienced homelessness in NSW

(an increase of 37% from 2011)

clients of social housing were unaccompanied young people aged 15-24

(19% of all clients)

people experienced homelessness in Australia
(an increase of 14% from 2011)

Children and young people want to feel safe and protected.2 To feel safe, young people need a secure place to call home. On the night of the 2016 Census, just over 9,000 young people were recorded as homeless in NSW. Sadly, we know that this staggering number is not the full picture, as many young people experience ‘hidden homelessness’ and are not counted in the official statistics. Hidden homelessness includes families moving in with other families, or young people couch surfing with friends or relatives.3

The effects of homelessness on young people are devastating and long lasting. We know that without a safe and secure place to call home, young people are more likely to self-harm, leave school earlier and have significantly higher unemployment rates than their peers. Children and young people who experience homelessness have poorer outcomes on a number of measures, including mental health and are 48% more likely to meet the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness.4

There is a clear message from young people in NSW that safe and affordable housing is a high priority for their generation.

Across NSW we heard during our regional community sector consultations that the affordability, security, supply and suitability of housing was the most referenced challenge facing communities.

As of June 2016 there were 60,000 people in NSW on the social housing waiting list, with waiting periods between 2 and 10 years. Research commissioned by Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) demonstrates that NSW needs an additional 12,500 new social and affordable rental homes a year until 2026.5 This includes 5,000 new social housing homes a year until 2026 for low-income households. This would return the proportion of social housing to 6% of all NSW housing, the same level as 20 years ago.6

Children and their families need more than a roof over their head, they need a home which is safe and one they can afford to run. A high percentage of housing in NSW has poor energy performance which costs our communities greatly.

People living in poor energy performing homes pay higher energy bills or live in unhealthy and uncomfortable environments. Sadly, too many people in NSW are living in homes that are damp, too cold in winter and too hot in summer which leads to an increase in mortality. In Australia, cold weather contributes to 6.5% of all deaths and hot weather contributes to 0.5%.7 Both of these statistics will increase as our climate continues to change.

Excess cold and dampness can generate and aggravate a range of illnesses and allergies having a significant impact on our public health spend.

“Exposure of Australian children to damp housing is associated with 8% of the total asthma burden in children aged 14 years or under.”8

With the cost of asthma to the Australian community at $11,740 per person, the economic case for developing energy efficient social housing stock is even more persuasive. 

According to Australian Built Environment Council and Climateworks Australia, a modest increase of one-star equivalent ratings in the National Construction Code could reduce energy costs by up to $900 for each household annually, and installing a solar hot water system could reduce energy use by 80% annually.

Young people recorded as homeless in 2016
People on the Social Housing Waitlist in 2016

In Australia, cold weather contributes to

0 %
of all deaths

“I’ve got two sisters who live with my grandparents in Brisbane, but my grandfather is an alco, so I can’t live there. My mum works really hard but she can’t support us. I don’t know where my dad is.

It would be good if there were actual shelters for us to go to in Byron, ‘cause this rain sucks…”

Daniel, 17 
Byron Bay

A young man who is sleeping rough uses the community showers facility in Byron Bay © Drew Rogers/No Fixed Abode 

NCOSS calls on the incoming government to commit to developing 5,000 new social housing dwellings every year until 2026. There is no reason why new social housing stock should not be built according to best practice energy efficiency standards. We need to ensure children and their families live in safe and comfortable homes that they can afford to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. This is a simple lever that an incoming government can action to support low income households in NSW meet the high cost of living and address preventative health problems.

  1. A national survey by CHOICE, National Association of Tenants Associations and Shelter in 2017, found that 8% of Australian renters have experienced a “no grounds” eviction during their time renting. The over 2 million renters in NSW are more likely to receive one.
  2. Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People. 2016, NSW Strategic Plan for Children and Young People – Consultation Results.
  3. Mission Australia. 2018, Young people’s experiences of homelessness: Youth Survey 2017 3.
  4. Ibid 6.
  5. Yates, Community Housing Industry Association NSW. 2018, Social and Affordable Housing Projections 2.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Antonio Gasparrini, Yuming Guo, Masahiro Hashizume, Eric Lavigne, Antonella Zanobetti, Joel Schwartz, Aurelio Tobias, Shilu Tong, Joacim Rocklöv, Bertil Forsberg, Michela Leone, Manuela De Sario, Michelle L Bell, Yue-Liang Leon Guo, Chang-fu Wu, Haidong Kan, Seung-Muk Yi, Micheline de Sousa Zanotti Stagliorio Coelho, Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva, Yasushi Honda, Ho Kim & Ben Armstrong. 2015, Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study, The Lancet, Vol. 386
  8. Power Shift: Healthy and comfortable homes for all Australians. 2018, Energy Consumers Australia citing Knibbs L.D Woldeyohannes S., Marks G.B., Cowie C.T. 2010, Damp housing, gas stoves, and the burden of childhood asthmas in Australia, Medical Journal of Australia 16; 208(7):299-302.
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