A schedule of NSW public housing waiting times released for the first time shows Byron Bay has the state’s average longest waiting time of 20 years (for a two-bedroom property).
This compares to a waiting time of under three months for a three-bedroom house in Cootamundra in the southwest of the state, or a studio in Moree in the far west.
Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) says it’s not surprised by the figures.
NRSDC’s Trish Evans said the Northern Rivers did have a lower level of public housing stock, including community housing provided by the not-for-profit community housing sector.
Ballina MP and minister for the north coast Don Page told media the waiting times also reflected the fact there was much less stock in Byron compared to Ballina and Tweed Heads and that more people wanted to live in coastal areas such as Byron Bay.
Minister for family and community services Pru Goward announced last week that the government had published the number of public housing properties, the people waiting in each area and how long they could expect to wait, for the first time to ‘boost transparency’.
Ms Goward said the release of the social housing waiting list data by region ‘will enable applicants to make more informed choices about their housing and living options’.
‘This will benefit up to 56,056 people who are on the housing waiting list as at 31 October 2011. At last they will be able to apply for a location clearly knowing its average waiting time.’
The data (available at http://www.housingpathways.nsw.gov.au/How+to+Apply/Expected+Waiting+Times/) include expected waiting times by dwelling size and location on a yearly basis.
The total number of properties (from studios to four-bedroom homes) available in Byron Bay was 186 with 135 applicants on the register as at 30 October last year and 14 people housed in the 12 months to 30 October 2011.
For Tweed Heads there were 1,022 properties (with 915 applicants and 78 people housed); Lismore 788 properties (331, 53); Ballina 714 (272, 57); Murwillumbah 227 (120, 16); Mullumbimby 36 (56, 1); and Brunswick Heads 48 (54, 5).