For almost eight years now I have had the privilege of working within the housing sector to advocate for and implement change that will see new social and affordable housing built. As I leave to join Anglicare as its disaster recovery manager, I remember my first days with Churches Housing.
After two days in the job, while eating caviar and drinking from fancy flutes at no 1 Bligh St with views of the Opera House and the Coathanger (to brainstorm homelessness solutions of all things – with the then Minister for Community Services) – I was already cynical.
Within 18 months I was shaking my head in despair at a sector that largely failed to see (or just ignored) that the problem we were trying to solve was actually getting worse at an increasing rate each year.
My saviour came in dreaming dreams and taking action through collaborating with our members, the Sydney Alliance, and other peaks.
Finding not just colleagues but passionate friends. we learned together how to push back and ask the difficult questions that always needed to be asked … but most of the time were not.
We organised our communities and spoke with ministers, MPs, local councillors, radio show hosts, government departments and whoever would listen.
We organised some pretty massive assemblies both local and city wide.
We decided we were in this for the long haul and realised that this fight will take decades and that we need to continue to reflect, organise and take action in new and different ways into the future.
This fight will continue to be part of me and my heart for the struggling people in our communities who are unfairly being squeezed because of the lack of meaningful housing policy.
Of course one of the key developments we have seen through Churches Housing is the launch of WelcomeMat, an affordable-housing rental realty listing – this will no doubt continue to make a significant difference into the future and fill a massive hole the sector has been asking to be filled for some years. Finally we have one place that people can go to to search for affordable rental housing.
We have also seen the faith-based sector step up and partner with government in supplying land for the building of significant quantities of new social and affordable housing.
While government itself has a history of being very hesitant to use its own land for this purpose, the churches have demonstrated that they are prepared to walk the talk. So thank you for standing with me as co-conspirators, collaborators, colleagues, friends … I am going to miss you and the importance of this work.