The federal government has given yet another multimillion-dollar injection to a north coast housing project to help home buyers, this time $8.36 million to a Murwillumbah development for 52 homes which, it is hoped, will make them more affordable.
Tweed Shire Council has welcomed the funding, which will allow for building infrastructure to enable the delivery of the 52 homes at the Hundred Hills development at Bray Park in Murwillumbah through housing provider Horizon Housing Solutions Ltd.
Under the funding agreement, Council must ensure at least 52 dwellings on the lots will be built in a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom homes and duplexes.
Of the 52 (or more), at least 30 are to be sold at a discount of 20 to 30 per cent off market price, with the remaining 22 lots retained by Horizon and rented at no more than 80 per cent of market rent.
Late last month, the federal government gave $5 million in funding to allow Ballina Shire Council to give buyers a $25,000 rebate on 120 blocks of land at Ballina Heights Estate.
At the time, a new report on rental affordability by welfare provider Anglicare showed that many northern rivers residents were struggling to afford accommodation and that only a fraction of available housing between Tweed Heads and Port Macquarie was affordable for people on low incomes.
And a north coast welfare group said housing in the area did not fit the population’s needs, with 75 per cent of housing stock being three-bedroom houses, but the area had an increasing population of one- and two-person households.
Tweed mayor Barry Longland said yesterday the aim of the federal government’s Building Better Regional Cities Program (BBRC) was to invest in local infrastructure projects that supported an increase in the number of homes or dwellings for sale and rent that were affordable for working families on ordinary incomes.
Cr Longland said local government authorities found affordable housing to be one of their most difficult challenges, ‘so it is wonderful to see this injection of funding’.
‘In the Tweed, and in Murwillumbah in particular, many struggle on wages below the state average and we’re aware there’s certainly demand for affordable housing in our community,’ he said.
‘This funding is going to go a long way towards assisting Council address that need.’
Infrastructure that can be funded under the BBRC Program includes infrastructure such as roads, civil works, electrical connections, telecommunications, parks and recreation areas.
Council will enter into an agreement with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) to ensure delivery of the program.
The homes are expected to be built by December 2015.
Federal housing minister Mark Butler said the funding would help reduce the cost of building local infrastructure for the development in Murwillumbah.
‘We know how challenging it can be for people on low incomes to get a start in the property market. This investment will help make housing in this beautiful part of the state more accessible to low- and middle-income Australians,’ Mr Butler said.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot said the development would provide 30 affordable homes for sale and 22 affordable rentals to help alleviate housing supply pressures in the Tweed Valley.
‘The savings to the developer will be passed on to home buyers and tenants through a reduction in sale and rent prices, to enable them to buy or rent homes that could have otherwise been out of reach.
Mr Butler said the government believed ‘the best way to improve housing affordability is to increase housing supply’.
The Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) last month said local problems with affordable housing were not just confined to supply and demand and that design was also a factor.
NRSDC spokesperson Trish Evans told media that much local housing did ‘not fit’ the local population, which was increasingly one- and two-person households, yet 75 per cent of north coast housing stock was three-bedroom houses.
But a spokesperson for Mr Butler last month told Echonetdaily that providing affordable housing was a challenge, and that mostly the drivers around housing, such as regulation, control and ownership, were either with state or local governments.
He said the federal government had thus used ‘the limited levers’ that it had to try to provide incentives for the supply of affordable housing both in a rental and ownership, ‘so this is one of those levers we can use to target regional areas where housing supply is an issue’.