Homelessness and a lack of social housing is becoming a major problem on the Northern Rivers. File photo.
Homelessness and a lack of social housing is becoming a major problem on the Northern Rivers. File photo.

Interactive map reveals our real level of homelessness

THE Northern Rivers' two federal electorates have been named among the worst hot spots for social housing needs and homelessness.

Homelessness Australia has launched a new awareness campaign, Everybody's Home, with interactive heat maps that reveal the desperate need for more social housing and the high levels of homelessness in regional areas.

Outside of Sydney, our local electorates - Page and Richmond - were in the top three for the number of people who need social housing and the number of homeless people.

Page has 4400 people who need social housing and 800 homeless people.

Richmond has 3900 in need of social housing and 800 homeless people.

Chairwoman of Homelessness Australia, Jenny Smith, said that was even before job losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and last summer's bushfires were taken into account.

"Tourism focused federal electorates along the North Coast, such as Page, Richmond, Cowper and Lyne were already experiencing some of the highest rent stress and social housing shortages in Australia - and have been heavily impacted by job losses as a result of COVID-19," she said.

"People often think homelessness is an issue mainly in cities and CBDs, but the maps show that to be a myth.

"The lack of housing that people can afford is not only the biggest cause of homelessness, but it also prevents people escaping from homelessness."

As part of Homelessness Week, Homelessness Australia and Everybody's Home are calling on all federal MPs to sign a social housing pledge, committing to investment in social housing to help end homelessness, and also delivering urgently needed jobs in local communities.

A coalition of housing advocacy groups has developed the Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP).

The plan is to build 30,000 social homes over the next four years, creating up to 18,000 jobs every year while combating homelessness.

"The growth in unemployment as a consequence of COVID-19 and cuts to social security payments will drive further increases in homelessness," Ms Smith said.

"By investing in social housing, the government will not only give more people a home but will also keep more people in a job."

The interactive map can be viewed at www.everybodyshome.com.au/heat-maps.