AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing.
AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing. Christian Morrow

OPINION: Finding a house to call home

IT IS time we started to think outside the box about the quintessential Australian dream - owning, or even renting, your own home.

There is a significant and growing inequality in Australian society between those who own property and those who can't find affordable housing to rent or buy in their own communities. Affordable housing in our area is becoming ever more elusive for so many.

When we talk about affordable housing we are often talking about very different things.

There is the need for affordable housing for people who can't afford to pay market rents, let alone buy a home due to low income, this is also known as social or public housing where properties are rent-controlled or provided by the state.

Then there is affordable housing for people who have jobs and are trying to enter the property market in areas where house prices are very high or who are being priced out of the rental markets in areas that are booming in the property market and attract developers rather than residential owner/builders.

Is there an answer for those on waiting lists for social or public housing through Housing NSW? In Ballina, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah the expected wait time to get a one- or two-bedroom Housing NSW property is 10 years or more.

The expected wait time for a three-bedroom house is also 10 years or more in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby. In Ballina, Brunswick Heads and Alstonville the expected waiting time for a three-bedroom house is 5-10 years. The shortest expected waiting period is in Ballina at 2-5 years for a four-bedroom house.

In February of this year the NSW Government formally introduced the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF). $1.1 billion would go to the fund, to deliver 3000 extra social and affordable homes. The government called for expressions of interest from non-government organisations (NGOs), landholders and the private sector for proposals for social and affordable housing projects.

In May the government announced that nine entities had been shortlisted to develop proposals to be funded.

A number of the parties included partnerships between NGOs, landholders and the private sector. It is expected that some of those shortlisted will receive government contracts, with the first properties delivered in 2-3 years.

While the commitment is for the fund to deliver at least 3000 properties, successive NSW governments have not done enough to address the housing affordability crisis in NSW and the waiting lists for social housing across the state is more than 60,000. Clearly more social and affordable housing is essential to ensure people on low and moderate incomes will have the opportunity to live in housing that is suited to their needs and close to work and educational opportunities.

The Greens committed $4.5 billion to deliver social and public housing at the last State election. We also supported the Shelter NSW '10 proposals for the budget and beyond', which included: increasing social housing supply by 2000 over the next decade, increasing the capacity for growth in the Aboriginal community housing sector, expanding the range of suitable dwellings for people with disabilities and requiring that 15% of new dwellings in high-density development areas be affordable housing at below-market rents.

Nationally, the Greens also want to promote more affordable housing for first-home buyers by phasing out capital gains tax discounts over five years and phasing out negative gearing.

In June 2016 the independent Parliamentary Budget Office estimated the Greens proposal would raise $117.3 billion over 10 years. That surplus could then be given as grants to first-home buyers.


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