Clearly, shelter is one of humankind’s basic needs. However, our Byron Shire region has moved so drastically to housing becoming a substantial financial benefit for the few that our community’s basic need is not being met.
This is hurtful for the many excluded from essential housing. However, it also creates social dislocation, division, and economic deprivation in that essential frontline workers are unavailable as the required people are priced out of the housing market. These forces create significant sociological and economic imbalances and require profound change.
Your refreshing publication reports on one improvement: housing use on rural community titles. This will enable an additional house or cabin accommodation to be built on community titles. This approach is to be commended as it meets the needs of the targeted group who are currently restricted.
However, much more is necessary, and the problem ‘Short Term Rental Accommodation Practice’, as reported in your paper, needs significant review. It seems such a waste that in a time of dire shortage there is so much, plenty where large numbers of housing remain empty as Airbnbers await the prime rental times of Easter and Christmas. Surely there must be a moderating mechanism for this ‘greed is good’ approach.
The original concept of Airbnb was to generate income by a landlord letting out a few spare rooms in their home. The point was to use up spare accommodation and reduce unproductive housing wastage. This original intention has moved far away from its beginnings. I believe that Airbnb accommodation within a designated residential area should require a live-in host, who would reside in the home and provide conventional controls. This approach needs the engagement of our local business operators who rely on the availability of visitor accommodation to support commerce.
In addition, coordination between local and state governments, with the support of private enterprise, will be required to accelerate the freeing up of land for affordable housing. These significant issues need cross-government unity, strong local representation, and an open-minded approach without the filter of ideology.
Finally, where do our civic duties and humanitarianism reside when we reject areas in our neighbourhoods for short-term living accommodation needs for the myriad of our community whom the devastating floods have displaced? We must support the welfare of the long-suffering displaced in our community.
I know I’ve covered a wide range of issues around housing in this letter. Who is interested in continuing the conversation with me so that, over time, we can together produce positive change?