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Byron Shire
September 26, 2021

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Latest News

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A Lismore councillor believes tiny houses could be the answer to the city’s homeless situation. (file pic)

Northern Rivers locals are being encouraged to bring their experiences, views and possible solutions on housing affordability to the attention of the NSW government on August 17 and 18.

This is particularly important with ongoing increase of homelessness in the region as the impact of increasing property values impact rent costs and short term holiday letting continues to take long term rental properties off the market.

‘Over the past year Vinnies members in the Tweed region supported close to 1,000 people with $290,000 in financial and material assistance,’ said Tweed Heads based Fred’s Place Team Leader Femke Romeijn who is encouraging locals to get on board with this years Vinnies Sleepout.

‘In the past year 39 per cent of people seeking assistance from Vinnies members in the Tweed region did so due to a lack of food; Fred’s Place assisted by distributing food parcels, frozen meals as well as cooking over 200 hot meals per day for those in need. Additionally, 68 per cent struggled to meet housing costs with 30 per cent or more of their income spent on rent.’

A similar impact can be seen across other shires in the Northern Rivers with Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon pointing out that ‘Homelessness is an ongoing issue for us in the Byron Shire, with street counts in NSW revealing that the numbers of people rough sleeping are second only to the City of Sydney.  And we know that’s only the people we can see, and that the real homelessness picture includes all those who are living in cars or couch surfing or in emergency shelters.’

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin. Photo Tree Faerie.

Housing taskforce wants your views

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin is highlighting the importance of putting solutions on the table for the NSW taskforce and is urging locals to register for upcoming online sessions this month (August) or for face-to-face meetings hosted by the Regional Housing Taskforce in Ballina on 17 and 18 August.

‘The new housing taskforce wants to hear your experiences to better understand the challenges when buying and renting in the bush, so it can drive policy that delivers new housing opportunities for regional communities,’ Ms Saffin said.

‘This is the community’s chance to voice their opinions on housing issues affecting the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands.’

State Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the NSW Government is looking to tackle the combination of factors putting pressure on housing supply.

‘By having the right housing policies, planning rules and support in place, we can boost our economic recovery and ensure everyone has a safe place to call home,’ Mr Stokes said.

‘Housing supply is as important in the regions as in Sydney, which is why I set up the Regional Housing Taskforce to investigate how we can better use the planning system and other levers to boost supply.’

Chair of the new Regional Housing Taskforce, Garry Fielding, said community feedback will be vital to informing his independent report, which will be handed to the NSW Government in September.

‘These findings will play a crucial role in developing a set of recommendations on how to achieve better housing outcomes for our regions,’ Mr Fielding said.

‘I am pleased to lead this online roundtable, and encourage the community and local business to join the conversation.’

Throughout this month of August, the Taskforce will be engaging with councils, Members of Parliament, the housing and development sectors and the local community.

A series of virtual consultations are scheduled, as well as in-person meetings in Ballina, Orange and Queanbeyan.

For more information, register for an event or make an online submission visit the Regional Housing planning portal.

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