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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Affordable housing needed now

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Jannine Barron, Mullumbimby. 

My dearest friends from Sydney just sold their home for a crazy price in Sydney and they have purchased a property in Mullumbimby. They were left with plenty of change so it was a great deal for them but it is one of many purchases that is putting affordable housing out of our reach more and more.

I’m grateful they will be my neighbours but it worries me that they are one example of hundreds of people that have seen our property market become out of reach for my kids and my friends. I have friends living in cars, in garages, looking desperately to rent, let alone buy, so they can keep their kids in school and keep their jobs.

Affordable housing is the most pressing issue of our Shire and we are in a total crisis. I am so grateful for the activism and initiative of projects like Brunswick Eco Village. Not only is it a beautiful place to potentially live, it is a very real, innovative option for affordable housing that has been designed and supported by longtime locals and professionals looking for affordable ways to continue living in this Shire.

The success of BEV impacts upon future potential developments in our Shire. More housing will be built in our Shire whether we like it or not; developments like West Byron have shown us this. So what do we want, people? I say lots of affordable communities – otherwise we are at the mercy of developers encouraging individual ownership only by those who can afford it.

It’s great to see Byron Shire Council approving pilot programs for affordable housing and I’m pleased to see that BEV is now one of these options to explore.

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  1. Thanks for your letter Jannine. The Bruns Eco Village not only “ticks all of the boxes”on affordable housing, the BEV project also ticks all the boxes in so many,if not all, of the other areas that matter so much to the majority of Byron Shire residents: Sustainability, Zero Carbon, Zero Waste, Local Economy, Sustainable Land use including Permaculture and Organic farming, Community values; the list goes on. I encourage anyone who has doubts about the Councils inclusion of this project to check out the BEV website, I’m sure you will be impressed by what this group of local people are proposing to achieve.
    I think that Byron just cannot afford to have small self-interest groups derail important community projects like BEV.

  2. I’d like to add that BEV has been intentionally set up to avoid the one thing that some people have accused it of being, namely a “development”. We have all seen communities set up to provide affordable housing, only to turn around and have members sell their houses for large, non-affordable, amounts of money. The BEV model makes this impossible to do, and ensures it’s houses will always remain affordable.

  3. Much the same thing happening down here in Bellingen , Jannine . People getting a million or more for their Sydney or Melbourne houses, coming here and paying $600 K for houses worth 400 . They think they’re getting a bargain but they aren’t ,they’re just pushing up prices to levels unaffordable for people on local wages. The city people sea-changing are often retirees looking for “lifestyle .” With some rare exceptions they play no part in the community , just have dinner parties with each other. And complain about the parking problem in town which they and their big shiny new four wheel drives created. The irony. The few i’ve met are nice enough people , but either unaware or unconcerned about the problem. They don’t see the couch-surfers , the people sleeping in their cars , the youth living rough, the “kidults” who can’t leave home and rent around here .Shortage of rentals so rents are high. None of this is affecting me personally , nor my one adult child . I own my house and she lucked out on a good rental for her and her kids only because as a resident here for 40 years i’m in with the estate agent (Hmmm) . But the problems for others are huge.

    • Vincent-Paul I can appreciate it is hard for people in regional areas on lower wages or on benefits to afford housing anywhere but it not reasonable to expect people who retire to rural areas to feel guilty about their decision. One of the major drivers for economic activity and so employment is the provision of housing and recreational facilities for retirees. It is why coastal towns are not declining in population while many smaller inland towns are. The market could provide a supply of homes for $400,000 – as it does in areas around SE QLD where development is not overly restricted. But people in the North Coast chose long ago to restrict development – that is why our area remains attractive to retirees even from the Gold Coast – and the inevitable result is land and the houses on it go to the highest bidder. If people are paying the $600,000 needed to buy a comfortable home that will not be a maintenance burden in their old age then that is what they are worth. There are less expensive towns away from the immediate coast that may not have the cache of Byron Bay part which are very livable towns. I would though like to see more bus options for people commuting to work in high cost coastal towns so they can drive to more frequent bus services and park and ride – saving on car costs and car dependency .


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