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May 20, 2024

Ballina candidates: social housing

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With an acute shortage of available housing across the nation, and in Byron Shire, The Echo asked candidates for the March 25 NSW election their social housing policy position.

Social housing is described by the government as, ‘secure and affordable rental housing for people on low incomes with housing needs’. 

Those seeking social housing either apply to the NSW government’s Department of Communities & Justice (public housing), or to non-government social housing providers (community housing). According to www.nsw.gov.au, ‘There are currently long waiting periods for social housing in NSW’.

Affordable housing, on the other hand, can be exploited by developers through loopholes within the State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP). For example, the Housing SEPP stipluates a 15 year sunset clause for affordable housing. After that, the property can be rented at market rates. According to Council’s recent submission to the IPC’s Short Term Rental Accommodation Planning Proposal, there are 70 people housed in Byron Shire in community housing, and 200 in social [public] housing. There are also 221 rough sleepers in the shire, which is on par with numbers found in Sydney.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith by the Richmond River in Ballina. Photo David Lowe.

Greens’ Smith

Sitting MP, Tamara Smith (Greens) told The Echo The Greens recently announced their plan to ‘rescue housing in regional NSW’ through a $1 billion fund which will deliver at least 2,500 public and social homes in regional NSW each year for the next ten years’. 

‘The plan includes provisions to immediately assist those impacted by floods in Northern Rivers by boosting the Buy-Back program and fully funding works to raise and retrofit eligible homes’.

Andrew Broadley with Byron Bay lighthouse.
Labor candidate for the state electorate of Ballina, Andrew Broadley. Photo supplied.

Labor’s Broadley

Labor candidate Andrew Broadley provided The Echo with a statement by NSW Labor ‘on how it plans to reduce administrative processes in the provision of social housing’.

It reads, ‘An elected Minns Labor government will create a new agency called “Homes NSW” that will drive the delivery of more housing options and manage social housing to tackle the state’s housing crisis.

‘NSW Labor will merge the Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) and DCJ Housing into one entity.

‘Currently, social housing construction, maintenance and tenant management is split across various government agencies and departments.

‘Homes NSW will be a single, one-stop social and affordable housing agency, bringing together all of these touch-points in a single authority to manage the delivery of social housing in NSW.

‘This will ensure decisions are made, implemented, and evaluated in the one place. It will streamline bureaucratic processes and reduce the capacity for buck-passing.

‘Aboriginal Housing would sit within this agency, but would maintain distinct leadership, self-determination, and control for the delivery of Aboriginal housing by Aboriginal people. 

‘With the Housing Register wait list increasing to 57,550 in 2022, including the number of Priority Applicants (6,519) increasing by 12 per cent in just one year, it is abundantly clear that addressing the housing crisis is a priority’.

Broadley added, ‘It is important that there is a plan for social housing as our Northern Rivers population continues to increase. I will pursue this as well as affordable housing if I am elected. NSW Labor’s build to rent program will provide housing for essential workers. This is one of the measures that ensure that there are nurses for our hospitals, teachers in our schools’.

Josh Booyens Nationals candidate for the state seat of Ballina

Nationals’ Booyens

Nationals candidate, Josh Booyens told The Echo, ‘The NSW Liberal and Nationals government has increased social housing in NSW by nine per cent over ten years, more than double the national figure of four per cent’.

‘NSW has more than 157,000 social homes – as many as Victoria, Queensland, and ACT combined. The community housing sector has significantly contributed to this.

‘The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has Implemented the over $1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), delivering access to 3,040 homes across NSW, with more to be completed soon; Delivered planning reforms to increase and accelerate social and affordable housing supply, including for First Nations families; Grown the community housing sector by supporting an investment of over $1.8 billion in new social and affordable housing since our time in Government; and Transferred 14,000 social homes to community housing providers to manage and to increase the sector’s scale, revenues, and capacity.

‘The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government is investing $2.8 billion in housing through the 2022 Housing Package – the State’s biggest investment in decades to address end-to-end housing.

‘The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has allocated around $1.379 billion in new funding to NSW Land and Housing Corporation since 2020, including $868 million in stimulus funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, $168 million in flood recovery funding, $43 million in funding for domestic and family violence refuges and $300 million in new investment through the 2022 State Budget.

‘Last year, Crown Lands and LAHC signed a historic MOU in Cooma and Albury, allowing the NSW Government to identify unused public land for hundreds of new affordable housing. We are working on opportunities to extend this in other parts of the state.

‘Landcom will expand their footprint in regional NSW and raise the affordable housing target, including rental and freehold sale, to at least 20 per cent by 2025.

‘We have committed to a minimum 30 per cent affordable and diverse housing on Transport Asset Holding Entity of NSW (TAHE) sites.

‘With pressure on housing from all directions, we have passed a tipping point where social housing for our region needs prioritisation. 

‘We are presented with a unique opportunity with greenfield development locations currently being investigated by the NRRC following the Lismore floods. If elected, I will advocate for a mandated mix of social and affordable housing through this process, to assist in taking pressure off social housing in our region’.

Independent Kevin Loughrey.

Independent Loughrey

Independent candidate, Kevin Loughrey told The Echo, ‘I am truly torn about “social housing”.  The ideal is for everyone to have a job, and to buy their own home on their own block of land. Some people like to live in “ant-nest” accommodation, stacked together, on top of each other with entertainment permeating through their walls. Others, such as myself, couldn’t stand that, and want their own block of land, no matter how modest, and their own home either fully or semi detached.

There are many downsides about social housing and it should be, in my opinion, a stop-gap with the aim of helping people own their own home. Some social housing programs involve the person “buying” a low-cost house by paying their rent. If they sell the house, they get to keep what is left over once the debt is recovered.

My priority at the moment is to lower the cost of housing construction and the cost of land. If we succeed in that, houses become affordable. Many young families would be able to afford to buy their first home. (I have ideas as to how we could lower interest rates also, but that is a separate issue to this.) 

‘Countering this, if we are too successful, too quickly, then those who see their house as their retirement asset will see the value that asset rapidly degrade. This would not be popular and could see the politician responsible for this out of office with people being elected who like the present status quo of expensive land and expensive housing. So this has to be treated with caution and the changes have to be gradual, say, over 20 years.

Someone once said that, ‘Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch’.  

‘And that is the quandary we face here. One segment of the community already in their houses is not keen to see housing become cheap and affordable by the masses. Another segment of the community is locked out of the market.

‘I favour the latter group of people because without them (the newly married with children) our society has no future.

‘I am not in favour of giving people things that others have bought because it engenders the wrong attitude which then permeates into other facets of industriousness as well. Your society then atrophies, as happened in communist/socialist societies.

‘How to reduce the cost of housing? Increase supply and remove green and red tape. Increasing supply means releasing more land for housing. In doing this, the land should be released as individual blocks with preference being given to owner builders or families who then go an contract a builder. 

‘Large developments favour the wealthy, and when the government gets involved, it invariably becomes overly expensive and inefficient. When I bought my first house, I had to sign a contract saying that I could not sell the land for ten years, and I was expected to live in the house with my family. This was done to deter speculators from buying a large number of houses or land and then controlling the market. Being in the army, an exception was made if you were posted. Possibly, we should explore something like that, to stop the wealthy buying up land and houses, and then throttling the market to get the highest price possible; thereby defeating the spirit of the scheme.

‘I won’t touch on this detail in this brief essay, but another way to reduce the need for social housing is to create an environment where there is full employment. I have ideas as to how this could be achieved.

‘Another aspect of this is to prohibit anyone who is not an Australian buying residential blocks of land or residential houses.  This then ensures the demand is moderated; again reducing the cost of a house and land.

‘In summary: Social housing should be a stop-gap measure where people live there temporarily, say for a maximum of 5 years, and then move on; Social housing could involve schemes where people purchase a home through their renting it; The preferable solution is to make housing as affordable as possible.  Do this and the need for social housing will reduce.  Likewise if there is a surplus of houses the cost of rental would also decline; and the ideal is that every Australian family gets to own their own home and it is preferable they also have their own plot of land.

‘Lastly, and obliquely related to this, is the fact that Australians have built homes on what is often the most fertile land. To compensate for this, I believe we have to move an environmentally responsible amount of water from the eastern seaboard into the west to create areas similar to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme.  

‘This would add significantly to this nation’s food security. As you know, I strongly believe we should be building lots of dams, not only for this purpose, but also because I am concerned that, sometime in the future, as the planet moves further into the Grand Solar Minimum, we will be faced with long droughts owing to a drop in evaporation caused by a cooler atmosphere. Dams also, in the present situation, will mitigate flooding. Please see https://kevinloughrey.com.au/FloodMitigation/Strategy.html‘.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Wow loughley is way out there. Doesn’t believe in social housing and rambles about the atmosphere cooling when all evidence shows a warming atmosphere and increased evaporation. An absolute denier of everything scientific.

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