SGCH calls on the Minns government to invest $10.3 billion in social and affordable housing over five years

8 February 2024

Our Group CEO Scott Langford addressed a CHIA NSW pre budget event held in NSW Parliament today. Here is the full transcript:

Jack came to Australia in the 1950’s with his young family. He was what we would call today a skilled migrant.

His first Australian home was in what is now known as Social and Affordable Housing. Back then it was built by the Public Housing Authority.

In fact, at the time, social and affordable housing – public housing – was the cornerstone of the housing system reaching a peak in the 1970’s when some 17% of new homes were being delivered by the public housing authority.

In his affordable home, with an affordable rent, Jack and his family could be confident they would be in the community for the long term. They formed social connections, joined clubs, volunteered, the kids went to the local school, and Jack worked hard.

He paid an affordable rent, saved and was able to buy a home in that community.

That was the springboard to opportunity. Affordable housing created a generational impact.

I am here today because of that housing opportunity because Jack was my grandfather.

My grandfather’s housing story would not be possible today. We have a declining social housing portfolio as a proportion of the market, a growing waiting list to match, and far less affordable rental housing than is required.

As some have observed recently, the situation in Sydney has become such that workers are being priced out and our most vulnerable citizens have nowhere to go. We risk an invisible boundary wall of property prices keeping out the people that make sydney a great place to live. The people who make the city work and the people who make it interesting.

The problem is clear. There is not enough social and affordable housing.

We applaud the Minns Government’s reform of the planning system. Transport oriented development and density done well are crucial levers to create housing diversity and great places for all.

These are steppingstones but the problem requires targeted intervention to create social and affordable housing.

So the community housing industry comes with an offer.

We can bring together capital and capability to stretch the government dollar further. We can be part of a solution to deliver social and affordable housing as part of the overall effort to deliver on the Housing Accord.

Minister Jackson has been a strong advocate for social and affordable housing.

Now it is time to back this with investment.

We are calling on the NSW Government to commit $10.3 billion over 5 years shared between government and community housing providers.

The community housing industry commits to leverage this to create 5000 homes a year – 25,000 homes over 5 years.

This is achievable and when you break it down, perhaps even modest. It is equivalent to 53 homes per electorate per year.

A $10.3 billion government funding commitment is roughly the same amount as was committed in the last budget to build and upgrade our schools and TAFE ($9.8 billion) and it’s about one seventh of what was put aside for new and improved transport infrastructure ($72.3 billion).

But think of it this way. Students start each day at home. They go home at the end of the day to do home work. Commuters are travelling to and from home. Without homes, these other investments are diminished. The key is unlocking homes.

The second problem statement is related to the pressing needs arising from climate change.

Much of the existing portfolio of social housing is ageing and not climate resilient. In practical terms it means many homes are hot in summer and cold in winter. It compounds disadvantage for households who are least able to bear the costs of climate change.

The community housing industry is calling on government to invest $200 million towards climate change mitigation measures in existing social housing.

We will commit to sweat these funds to maximum impact so that tenants in social housing don’t have to keep sweating the impacts of climate change on health and finances.

We stand here at a moment in time when the choices we make about social and affordable housing will determine the future of our housing system in NSW and in turn the future success of our communities and economy.

We stand here ready to partner with a government ready to invest.

We want Jack’s story to be possible for more people. And we want the most vulnerable in our community to know they have a safe, sustainable and affordable place to call home.

The choice to invest and take up the community housing industry’s offer to partner now rests with government.

Thank you.

Scott Langford
Group Chief Executive Officer