Listen: Magnus Linder in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Less than 1% of private rentals are affordable for people on low incomes in the Greater Sydney area. Housing stress and rising homelessness are hurting not only renters but their families, employers, whole communities.
60,000 on waiting lists
Sydney’s housing is the second least affordable in the world – after only Hong Kong (Demographia survey 2017). In NSW, more than 60,000 people are on the social and affordable housing waiting lists. Magnus Linder of Sydney Alliance and Churches Housing spoke on Open House about some of the concerns people have about affordable housing.
We build for rich not poor
Experts have estimated that 8,000-12,000 a year new lower-income-affordable dwellings must be built to even keep pace with population developments – or we’ll continue to go backwards. While thousands of new units are being built for high income earners in areas close to transport and jobs, lower to middle income earners are being left out.
Number one election issue
Surveys show housing is the Number 1 issue for NSW voters (Ipsos polls) – and they expect more of governments. In NSW 75% of low-income households are in rental stress and over 28,000 are homeless.
Forums are being organised across Sydney in the lead up to NSW elections in March next year, on how to get more affordable and secure housing for people on lower incomes. They are hosted by Uniting, Vinnies and the Sydney Alliance.
The Alliance is a coalition of more than 40 not-for-profit organisations representing cultural, language, educational, faith and trade union groups. It advocates for NSW and local governments to adopt meaningful “Inclusionary Zoning” targets for affordable rentals in new developments (at least 15% of units on private land, 30% on government land); and in partnership with the Make Renting Fair campaign, to end unfair ‘no-grounds’ evictions of tenants after the end of leases, currently allowed by NSW law.
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Are Government targets enough?
In early 2018 the NSW Government announced that affordability targets for new developments would be adopted for the first time in government planning for Greater Sydney.
There are concerns that the targets they’ve set are too low and don’t extend to enough local government areas, and that the wording of the policy is vague and open to evasion. Nevertheless it was a major win for the community which could lead to significant numbers of new affordable dwellings – if the policy is extensively and firmly applied, with the active support of both state and local governments.
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