New data has shown that there are approximately 68,000 properties sitting vacant in NSW, which could easily house the state’s 37,175 homeless people.
And these aren’t houses that are sitting empty temporarily. They are permanently vacant and held by some of the state’s most wealthy.
Why isn’t this being utilised as a solution for addressing homelessness in New South Wales?
We already know that affordable housing options in New South Wales, particularly in city areas, are few and far between. So is it any wonder that homelessness in the state increased by an approximate 23,041 in 2001 to an estimated 37,715 in 2016 according to Census data alone.
And this new information has credible backing to support its statistics. The estimated number of vacant properties in New South Wales was concluded by taking the overall amount of dwellings that were indicated as empty in last year’s Census and converting that number with an investigation of water usage data. Showing that we could well and truly cover the amount of homeless people in the state with ease.
Homelessness in Australia is intentional government policy. It could be fixed, but no it’s not a priority at all. Finland fixed it because they have a more ethical government than Australia.
“Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need.” https://t.co/N7lOWpASL5
— Peter Cronau (@PeterCronau) January 1, 2020
The problem? These empty dwellings are owned by a small number of the state’s wealthiest people who hold the houses as long-term speculative vacancies. Former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has been on the case for years, pointing out the inequality in allowing the rich to play the housing market:
“These aren’t properties in between buyers. They’re being deliberately left vacant to speculate on rising prices.”
Worse yet, Prosper Australia research indicates that across Australia there are about 300,000 speculative vacancies, accounting for 3% of all housing. Imagine the impact this would have for people sleeping rough if we could solve homelessness simply by taking one house out of the hands of the rich.