Tonight’s crisis National Cabinet meeting should be focused on housing relief to protect renters and tenants, the Australian Greens said today, with the Greens Leader and Housing Spokesperson today writing to heads of Governments to urge compassion through this crisis.
The letter comes following the unprecedented decision of NSW Parliament last night to pass a Greens amendment that enables the Government to ban rental evictions, empower tenants and limit the powers of landlords through the COVID-19 pandemic via regulation alone.
Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt and Greens housing spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi’s letter notes the growing joblessness throughout the country, warning that without serious action to keep people in housing, the health and economic crises may soon include a homelessness epidemic.
- Ban on evictions and foreclosures
- Rent holidays, or at least a nationwide rent freeze with no increase in rent for the duration of the health crisis
- Mortgage holidays provided for vulnerable homeowners
- Increasing rent assistance payments and expanding access to rent assistance if necessary
- Directing police and court officers not to carry out or allow any evictions
- Requiring public and community housing providers to immediately cease eviction proceedings against their tenants - unless they relate to perpetrators of violence
- Ensuring that housing departments and councils are working with shared accommodation providers, including boarding and rooming house operators, so that residents are not evicted into more severe homelessness and that their accommodation is healthy
- Urgently funding crisis housing.
Lines from Adam Bandt MP:
"No-one should be evicted during a pandemic.
"We need an immediate ban on evictions and foreclosures, with rent and mortgage holidays for people who need relief and extra support for homelessness services.
"This pandemic will get worse if people face losing their homes because they can’t afford their rent or mortgage.
"You can’t stay home to ‘socially distance’ without a house. You can’t limit your shopping without a fridge. You can’t rest and recover without a bed.
"In just the past two days, we’ve heard from literally thousands of people concerned about their ability to pay rent. These are people who had a stable income until just days ago and now face being left with nothing.
"The passing of last night’s amendment in NSW is just the start. We need to roll out eviction bans and mortgage holidays across the country.
Lines from Senator Mehreen Faruqi:
"We are on the brink of a serious housing crisis. Without swift government action, we could see many more people homeless or put under massive housing stress in the coming weeks.
"As jobs evaporate, so does the ability to pay rent or pay off a mortgage. Governments must intervene urgently to scrap evictions and foreclosures, increase crisis housing funding, freeze rents, and look after our communities in this public health crisis.
"We are all hearing terrifying stories about people on the brink of losing a roof over their head because they can’t pay rent anymore. Governments must show leadership and take action now or risk a housing catastrophe unlike anything we've seen before.
"Housing is a basic and fundamental human right. It's about time it was treated that way. There is no time to waste."