Housing insecurity is an ongoing and serious issue in NSW Northern Rivers, an issue that has only been highlighted and exacerbated since record flooding decimated much of the region in 2022.
Community services provider, Social Futures which has been delivering homelessness support in the Northern Rivers for more than 20 years, is calling for more social and affordable housing in regions hit by natural disasters, like floods and bushfires.
CEO Tony Davies said the exact number of people displaced by the February-March floods is impossible to know, with people still coming forward for help one year on.
“We understand there’s around 600 people still in emergency accommodation, we’ve got around 1500 people living in the temporary pods, but the big unknown is how many people are actually living in informal arrangements – staying with friends or families, or camping in shells of houses with no doors, walls or windows or sleeping in tents and caravans in their yards.”
Davies said around 6,500 people have applied for the Resilient Homes Program to have their houses, repaired, raised, or sold back to the government.
“Many people still don’t know if their home is in an area eligible for a government buyback.”
He has welcomed $350 million dollars put aside by the federal government for temporary housing, in the form of pod accommodation hubs, but says there needs to be more permanent solutions.
“We don’t really have time in the Norther Rivers, we need a commitment to start building that social and affordable housing in all of our flood affected areas first, because the housing need is just so acute.
“We were experiencing a housing crisis, then the floods hit, and it became a housing catastrophe.”
Listen to the interview with Social Futures CEO, Tony Davies: