Posted by Don Heath

We had another excellent Guest Speaker at our Rotary meeting on Tuesday 24th August.

George Housakis is a Managing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Real Estate Advisory practice and has over 20 years’ experience in real estate advisory and senior management. George leads a team of specialists that exclusively focus on housing challenges for low-to-moderate income households across Australia. He works with all levels of Government, as well as not-for-profits and the private sector on a broad range of policy and strategy roles. He gave us an insight into housing affordability, social housing, home ownership, stability and quality of rental housing and the delivery of more social housing.

George advised us that we have 437 000 social housing properties in Australia with a value of $176
Billion and this is simply not enough to meet the need. The Government own most of these. The current waiting list is made up of 25 000 people and most will have to wait about 10 years to obtain a home. This year the Federal Government has allocated another $5.3 Billion to provide more social housing for the homeless but this is still not enough.

There is a perception that laziness is a major cause of homelessness but George advised us that this reason is a very small percentage of cases. He outlined mental health problems, physical disability problems, family violence and loss of employment as the major causes of homelessness. Underemployment is also a problem given that people paying more than 30% of their income on rent may be suffering rental stress. This leads to not having enough left to live on.

This led to a discussion on what Australia can do to solve the homelessness problem. It is a very complex question but George believes that we need a three-pronged approach with collaboration between the Government, not for profits and the private sector to improve the life of our homeless sector.

Don Heath