Australia is grappling with a persistent housing crisis that is leaving families on long wait lists and paying exorbitant rents for substandard accommodation. Herbriella George, a mother of seven, is one of the almost 60,000 people in New South Wales (NSW) waiting for social housing.
She has been on the wait list for a decade and has viewed 60 to 70 properties without success. As a result, Ms George is left with the option of living in a barely habitable house or in her car.
Recently, Ms George saw a run-down, mold-covered property in southern Sydney, which she knew no one would apply for. She decided to rent it for $450 a week, despite its poor condition.
The property has a severe mold problem, forcing Ms George to throw away some of her possessions, and she now shares her living space with rats that she calls her “pets.” She has even had to give up four of her children as she could not afford to care for them anymore.
According to census data, approximately 144,000 people in Australia are in need of social housing. Hal Pawson, a researcher from the City Futures Research Centre at the University of NSW, says that some families have given up on the wait list, while others do not apply for properties due to the highly competitive market.
Some of the hardest areas to secure housing include the inner city suburbs of Erskineville, Beaconsfield, and Zetland, where wait times for a home larger than a one-bedroom unit are at least 10 years.
The situation is dire for families like Ms George’s who are forced to make impossible choices, with many others in similar circumstances. The issue highlights the need for the Australian government to take swift and decisive action to address the housing crisis and ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.