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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Byron Council’s $10,000 emergency housing response

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A team of volunteers who have helped hundreds of locals left homeless by the floods find temporary accommodation will finally be paid for their work, after Byron Council promised to find $10,000 in funding.

The volunteers sprang into action almost immediately after the first flood struck on 28 February, setting up at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall to help match people with suitable emergency accommodation.

More than two months later, the team, which is now operating under the auspices of the Mullumbimby District Neighbourhood Centre, continues to be among the most effective emergency housing and accommodation services in the region.

Funding for ten weeks

At last Thursday’s Byron Council meeting councillors unanimously passed a motion to support this work.

This included allocating $10,000 from a ‘suitable grant funding source’ so that the team could be paid for the next ten weeks, and providing help with communications.

‘The best way for us to help is to provide financial support,’ Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, told the meeting.

‘We’re hoping to see some of the temporary housing pods promised by the State government arrive within the next four to eight weeks, so this allocation will at least support the Neighbourhood Centre until then.’

How to limit short-term holiday letting?

In addition to this promise, councillors resolved to once again explore whether the Council had legal powers to limit short-term holiday letting in the Shire as a way of moving these dwellings into the Shire’s desperately understocked long-term rental market.

This is not the first time Council has pursued this course, with previous attempts largely proving fruitless.

Councillors spent nearly two hours debating the question of how the Council could best assist the efforts to provide housing to those affected by the floods.

Independent Councillor Mark Swivel moved a much larger and more extensive motion on the issue, which included the use of community and church halls as temporary accommodation, and developing a model for community organisations and private landowners to provide accommodation for up to ten people without a development application.

‘Trying to avoid people sleeping in their cars is what motivates this proposal,’ Councillor Swivel said of his motion.

‘We need to do everything we can to keep these members of our community close to home and close to work.’

But Councillor Swivel’s motion was voted down by a majority of councillors.

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