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January 20, 2022

Northern Rivers rental crisis worsens

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Those advocating for people suffering from housing stress, homelessness, and poverty housing across the Northern Rivers region, say there is a crisis as two new reports point to the urgent need for the federal government to invest in social housing.

According to SQM research, rents in Byron Bay increased by 17 per cent over the past year while Lismore recorded an increase of 17.3 per cent.

The news comes as separate reports from the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership and the Grattan Institute demonstrate how a combination of rising rents and lack of social housing have pushed more Australians into housing stress, homelessness, and poverty.

The yawning gap left by federal inaction

The ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership demonstrates the yawning gap left by federal inaction on social and affordable housing. Despite Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia stepping up to invest $10 billion over the next few years, only 23,000 new homes will be added to public and community housing stock even though 155,000 households are registered on social housing waiting lists and more than 400,000 households are in need of affordable housing.

And the Grattan Institute shows how social housing has fallen from six per cent of all housing to less than four per cent since 1991. The decline means a greater proportion of low-income households have to compete in the private rental market.

Housing market is brutal and bruising

Everybody’s Home spokesperson Kate Colvin said the housing market is brutal and bruising for anyone on a low income right now. ‘Housing should be a basic right, but it’s turned into a sadistic, high stakes competition.

‘It’s good to see state governments try to step up, but the truth is, only the Federal Government has the fiscal firepower required to make a significant difference in reversing the decade of decline in social housing investment.

‘The states can not be left to try and do it themselves.

‘The record rent rises across the country shows that there really is no time to lose. We are in the midst of a crisis. The Federal Government needs to take action now.’


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  1. the solution to homelessness is land reform ending private ownership of land with government managed land leased as needed to individuals families and businesses with a use it or lose it law.

  2. +1 Dennis, yes, but maybe a revolutionary measure, without much historical precedent in reformist parliamentary policy-making.
    We’ll see how many more independent producers must be dispossessed to mainstream a popular movement with the rest of the transient population. The notion of the Australian family farmer is an illusory bubble the Nationals can’t keep inflating -or a hole they can’t keep digging-much longer.

  3. I feel the govt should invest again in more public housing. Some time ago I suggested to Kevin Hogan that funding could be offered to the (Lions, Rotary, etc) services clubs to buy a block of land, then contract a local builder (that is within 100Kms) to build a house or Duplex on the block. This then would be rented for a reasonable rent that repays the government investment. After 10 years the resident could apply to purchase the residence. The funds would then recycle to keep the system going.
    Personally, I am not in favor of Tiny house developments (I feel they could become like the US Trailer slums in the future). However, a tiny house parked at an existing house as a Granny flat would be OK. Also, community housing should be scattered with existing housing so the old ´Public housing´ suburbs do not recur.
    Also, as a complying development, infill housing on larger house blocks (over 1000M sq) should be allowed, even to add to existing houses.

    I agree with Dennis that a total rethink is required, but home ownership is an Australian idiom. However, I feel foreign ownership should be 25 year leasehold only, with the government receiving lease payments (because foreign owners, unless recognised Australian residents, do not necessarily pay tax in Australia.) To put this in perspective, MANY countries do not allow any foreign property ownership.

  4. How’s this for an idea…repurpose farming land(ie cattle grazing pasture) for the purpose of growing food and living simply and sustainably with nature???Gunyah…Garden…Bas!!


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