Tweed mayor Katie Milne yesterday opened the first affordable rental house to be built in the region for some time – at Hundred Hills, Murwillumbah.
The best news is there are 21 more in the pipeline, together with 30 properties set to be sold at affordable prices.
It may have been a small step but with housing affordability on the north coast at an all-time low, every little bit helps.
The launch was the culmination of a five-year, $8.36 million project funded by the former federal government’s Better Regional Cities Program.
Cr Milne said the council was ‘happy to have been able to support this initiative and make an affordable house available to a family in need.’
‘Housing affordability is a very real issue here in the Tweed,’ she added.
Around January 2011, the Labor federal government identified the Tweed as an area where house prices were unaffordable, prompting council to partner with the not-for-profit group Horizon Housing and apply for funds under the program to build affordable housing in the shire.
The partnership secured in funds to build 52 homes at Hundred Hills: 30 to be sold and 22 to be retained by Horizon Housing for renting.
By May 2014, all roads and stormwater, water and sewer connections, electricity and recreational spaces were in place.
‘The grant funds for the 52 lots enabled construction of the infrastructure for the whole development, fast-tracking the release of 178 lots, including the 52 earmarked for affordable housing,’ council’s engineering director David Oxenham said.
Of the 52 lots held by Horizon Housing, 25 of the 30 for sale have sold under a discounted mortgage scheme where Horizon Housing retains a 25 per cent interest in the property at no cost to the buyer until or unless the house is on-sold.
Of the 22 properties to be retained by Horizon Housing for renting, the first was launched yesterday and is ready for tenants, the second is due to be finished within a month and construction on seven more is due to start soon.
Both buyers and renters must meet eligibility criteria to join the affordable housing scheme and should contact Horizon Housing direct for more information.