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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Housing trust a solution to Byron’s affordability problem

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Byron Shire Councillor and Byron Bay Community Association general manager Paul Spooner. Photo supplied

Byron Shire Cr Paul Spooner

The Byron Shire was supposed to be different. We were supposed to be building a better society, we were supposed to be developing an alternative way of looking after ourselves and the land we inhabit. We were supposed to be a beacon of light shining the way to a brighter, environmentally friendlier and more inclusive future.

But over the years something went wrong. We forgot about an essential element in building a sustainable community. We no longer provide housing for all our people.

The Byron Shire LGA has more houses listed on holiday-letting platforms than you can poke a stick at, while the cost of housing is the most unaffordable on the east coast of Australia.

The Affordable Housing Income Gap report identified a weekly income of $1,967 is needed to avoid housing stress in the Byron Shire. In other words, you need a yearly income of $100,000 to live comfortably in the shire. Most local people, especially the young, earn way below this figure working in low paid, seasonal hospitality and tourism related jobs.

The Occupy Wall Street movement that came to prominence in September 2011 highlighted the deep economic divide between the haves and have nots. It focussed worldwide attention on the growing inequality infecting advanced capitalist economies. Its clarion call was to establish a global justice movement based on the slogan ‘We are the 99 per cent’.

It’s time the Byron Shire created a solution to the provision of affordable housing for local people.

Housing will never be affordable in the Byron Shire unless we seed a revolution in land ownership and control.

It’s time for a revolution to begin.

Not the type with blood in the streets and gun smoke in the air.

The peaceful type where we stop doing the things we’ve been doing for years and start doing things differently so that we achieve a different result.

We can do it differently.

We can make houses homes again.

We need to occupy our land, build our own housing and save our community.

We can do this by creating a community land trust in the Byron Shire.

A trust that is capable of building homes that are owned and managed by our community.

A community land trust breaks the market monopoly of private home ownership and creates longterm individual leases up to 99 years for land that individuals and families are able to build on to own their housing or to create community managed facilities and enterprises.

A community land trust is not a commune, a community title, nor is it some quasi-government corporation. It’s an independent legal organisation that is community owned and operated for the dedicated purpose of keeping housing affordable now and, most importantly, into the future.

Byron Community Land Limited a not-for-profit public company holding its first annual general meeting 6pm Monday December 10 at the Byron Community Centre.

If you are interested in becoming a member, want to help create or obtain affordable housing in the Byron Shire send an email to [email protected] or contact Paul Spooner on 0434 771 510for further details.

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