Desperate residents play the waiting game

Emu Plains resident Diana McCarty is on the social housing waitlist. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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Emu Plains resident Diana McCarty is the living example of a social housing crisis that is raising more questions than answers, and putting pressure on the State Government to act.

Ms McCarty, 55, has an inoperable brain tumor that has restricted her employment opportunities. Living with her two elderly parents, she has felt the wrath of the local housing supply shortage.

Soon, she will enter her 12th year on the waitlist for a one bedroom apartment.

Her story comes as NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay questions recent points made in Budget Estimates, which discussed the Land and Housing Corporation’s plan to sell 345 social housing dwellings over the next two years.

“In the last financial year, 352 social housing properties plus land parcels were sold by the Land and Housing Corporation for $333 million,” Ms McKay said.

“If you push people out of their homes they either join the queue to attain an alternative social housing dwelling, usually outside their established community or they struggle to survive in the private rental market.”

For Ms McCarty, the wait for an appropriate apartment feels like it will never end as each year goes by.

“The government is making it easier for rich people to get around but the poorer people struggle more while they spend their money on silly things,” she said.

“We need to build more housing in Penrith not luxury apartments.”

The Home in Western Sydney report released by Wentworth Community Housing and the Western Sydney Community Forum revealed there is currently a shortfall of about 6,400 social and affordable dwellings in the Penrith Local Government Area.

“Wentworth is committed to working with the State Government and local councils to increase the supply of social and affordable housing in the region,” Wentworth Housing CEO Stephen McIntyre said.

“We are also looking at ways to increase affordable housing stock outside of the social housing system through local solutions like partnering with homeowners to develop Garden Flats in their backyards and establishing a Tiny Homes village.”

A NSW Government spokesperson paid credit to their social housing building program and the assistance available for people in the private rental market.

“All housing applicants are assessed and if eligible, placed on the housing register. Our policy is to support clients with an urgent or complex need into housing as a priority,” the spokesperson said.

According to the report, Penrith requires almost 550 additional social and affordable housing dwellings per year to meet the forecast demand in 2036.

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