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Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

Cr Jeff Johnson calls for affordable housing initiative

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Ballina’s Cr Jeff Johnson has a housing proposal for Ballina Council which will be discussed at today’s meeting, following a recent workshop with Social Futures and North Coast Community Housing.

Cr Johnson notes that there has been a dramatic increase in rents in Ballina Shire over recent years, driven by factors including higher property prices, owners seeking a greater return on their investments, the rise in properties being made available for holiday rentals and short term rentals, and more people moving to the area since the COVID pandemic began.

‘This has created a critical shortage in affordable rental properties that are available and a greater sense of insecurity for those currently renting,’ he said.

‘Recent statistics highlight this with a rental vacancy rate of less than 1%,’ said Cr Johnson. ‘Increasingly, when a home does become available for rent it is not uncommon for up to fifty applicants to apply. Often people are offering to pay over and above the listed rental price in order to secure the property, which drives the market increasingly higher.’

With the added pressure of COVID bringing more people to the area, Jeff Johnson said, ‘This has led to this perfect storm which is resulting in couples and families who have stable employment and a long rental history suddenly being pushed out of the market.’

He suggests that ‘this is causing a massive increase in not only rental stress, but also an inability of many local businesses to find staff, simply because there is no affordable housing available.’

Housing increasingly out of reach?

Ballina vacancies at rock bottom

Cr Johnson points out that the Ballina post code of 2478 recorded one of the lowest private rental market vacancy rates in the SQM Research survey (0.2%) for January 2021.

‘When local businesses and organisations that work in the health, hospitality and service industries can’t find staff due to there being no affordable housing, then we know the situation has reached a crisis point,’ he said.

Cr Johnson says the next step is for councils to start working collaboratively with organisations such as local housing and support provider Social Futures, as well as North Coast Community Housing and the state government, to search for a meaningful solution.

The motion being presented ‘seeks to formalise’ those discussions.

Cr Johnson said that another solution that needs to be explored further ‘is for the use of appropriate Crown Land holdings within the Ballina Shire (and beyond) to be converted into affordable or community housing.’

His motion will be debated in today’s Ballina Council meeting.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Cr Jeff Johnson,
    Crown land is open space that is needed to remain open space for the sanity for the community. Crown land is Crown land and designed to be open space by good town planners so councils did not have other problems regarding the lowering of the numbers in mental hospitals and sanitioriums and an increased suicide rate.
    Councils across Australia once had Affordable Housing Estates and those estates were called “Caravan Parks”.
    They were affordable, but as more affluent people gained entry into Council and became councillors they voted against caravan parks and got rid of them as they were deemed to be low-class not approprate for a growing status-seeking place such as Lennox Heads and other coastal towns.
    Anyone can buy today a very affordable caravan big enough to live in for a family at $80,000. I imagine that Cr Johnson is thinking of a price range of $100,000 or less when he bandies around the words “Affordable Housing” is he not?

    • Not all about you Emily but good luck with your condition anyway. There must be housing for those who will cook and clean and nurse and police etc. This is a serious problem so let us stick to the point.

  2. While council fees soar and application costs for extensions and new dwellings seem endless, this adds 6 figures to the cost or a standard dwelling
    That’s where a lot of your housing stress comes from. Bureaucrats. They are well paid and get regular pay rises and their fess go up by multiples of official inflation rates.
    Their sandwiching more properties on smaller blocks and what is happening at Skennar’s head is an eyesore.
    More rate payers more people coming from the cities.Bigger council and more pay. Everybody wants to live at the coast.
    if you want affordable housing move to a inland rural town . That’s where the affordable housing is.
    “Affordable ” housing on the Northern Rivers is not going to happen. It’s been and gone.
    It’s just a mantra from another local politician seeking votes .

  3. “Anyone can buy today a very affordable caravan big enough to live in for a family at $80,000.”

    Where is this “anyone” supposed to park said caravan and live in it?

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