Tonight around 3,100 people in the Illawarra will put their heads down to sleep, but it won't be in a place they call home.
They may catch a troubled few hours' rest as the train rattles its way between Kiama and Sydney, or they may have an uncomfortable night ahead trying to get some sleep in their car, hoping beyond hope they won't be asked to move along.
Or they could be out on streets, merciful that the weather is not too hot, wet, or cold ... but aware that winter is coming.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Illawarra has double the homelessness rate compared to the whole of Australia.
Even more worrying, Sydney recorded 3589 people experiencing homelessness on census night. Our region is 458 people away from becoming Australia's homeless capital of NSW, and that's not a title we can be proud of.
So far, the policies unveiled to address the housing crisis generally in NSW have fallen short of the expectations in the social housing sector.
Only The Greens have committed to invest in building more public homes with a $1bn pledge for regional Australia. They do it with the comfort of knowing they'll never need to deliver the promise.
While the Liberals have said they'll upgrade 15,800 public homes. Labor has said they'll remove the red tape with the establishment of Homes NSW and assign 30 per cent of all homes built on government land for social, affordable and universal housing.
While these are the right sort of noises, it falls way short of solving a problem that is only going to get worse if urgent action is not taken. The Illawarra deserves a commitment to more public housing being built in the region and a quota for affordable housing in every fancy new apartment built in the CBD.
Because where we are right now is shameful.
- Gayle Tomlinson
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