Sydney Alliance is currently running a Housing Affordability Campaign to highlight how the housing crisis affects Sydney residents. Settlement Services International (SSI) has joined the advocacy campaign to highlight how the crisis is compounded further for asylum seekers and refugees.
Language barriers, the lack of rental history and skills to navigate the property market, social isolation, high unemployment and mental and physical health issues combine to make securing housing a problem for refugees and asylum seekers.
SSI is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, accommodation, asylum seeker assistance, foster care and disability support in NSW. SSI is the largest not-for-profit humanitarian settlement organisation in Australia.
“Refugees and asylum seekers often end up in overcrowded share houses, and even on the streets,” said SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.
“It’s quite common for SSI’s refugee and asylum seeker clients to pay 30 to 55 per cent of their income on rent, making it difficult for them to afford bills, food and transport as well,” added Ms Roumeliotis.
Sydney is commonly among the ‘most expensive cities in the world’ lists. Through the Affordable Housing Campaign, which SSI supports, the Sydney Alliance has called on the NSW Government to implement practical policies to promote housing affordability.
“At SSI we believe that practical policies are needed to make Sydney more affordable for all residents, leading to a beneficial trickle-down effect for refugees and asylum seekers,” said Ms Roumeliotis.
“More affordable rentals, through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) or similar, coupled with innovative property purchasing models, would mean that working Australian residents – from refugee and non-refugee backgrounds – could potentially move out of private rentals or social housing sooner.
“It would also result in more vacancies in the private rental market, which would lead to improved access and price stability, which is a top concern for refugees and asylum seekers.”
Ms Roumeliotis said it was important that governments maintain a strong commitment to specialist homelessness services (SHS) funding to allow these services to assist asylum seekers and refugees who, because of the precarious nature of their accommodation, are often at risk of homelessness.