Time for leadership on unaffordable rental crisis
This article is sponsored by Uniting, the Board of the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church responsible for the work of community services, chaplaincy and social justice advocacy.
Nadine Carrick pays 70 per cent of her income on rent – and her story is by no means unusual in Sydney’s crisis of unaffordable housing.
Student Nadine was one of several renters who shared their harrowing stories at a Sydney Alliance assembly on the housing issue at St Mary’s Catholic College Hall, Sydney on July 12 (ABC News report, July 13).
Also present were NSW Planning and Housing Minister Anthony Roberts MP and Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Chief Executive Sarah Hill – both of them facing critical questioning on the lack of meaningful action to ease the affordable rental shortage.
With Sydney’s housing now the second-least affordable in the world, an audience of over 600 people from across Greater Sydney and beyond heard expert speakers pointing to the worldwide evidence for “inclusionary zoning” legislation to set minimum percentages of affordable units in new developments.
The assembly, co-chaired by Alliance partners including Stafford Sanders of Uniting, heard evidence of the feasibility of the Sydney Alliance targets of a minimum of 15 per cent of units in developments on private land, and 30 per cent on public land. Expert speakers including Prof Bill Randolph from UNSW and Dr Tim Williams of City Futures endorsed these targets as achievable and realistic – evidence from cities like London and New York showing they could be implemented without significant adverse impact on housing prices or supply.
A roll call of attendees at the assembly showed near-unanimous support.
The Uniting Church, a member of the Sydney Alliance, was well represented by leaders including NSW/ACT Moderator the Rev. Myung Hwa Park and Uniting Executive Director Peter Worland – alongside leaders of other major faiths including Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and the Grand Mufti of Australia’s Muslims, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed.
The assembly was stunned when the GSC chief was unable to provide any figures on the numbers of affordable homes that might be created by the commission’s current very low inclusionary targets.
Magnus Linder of Churches Housing brought a chuckle when he suggested that Minister Roberts would “sleep better at night” if the government adopted significant policy to improve affordable rentals in Sydney.
On August 3, Sydney Alliance member the St Vincent de Paul Society will present a petition of over 16,000 signatures supporting inclusionary zoning, to be tabled in NSW Parliament. This will be marked by a free event at Parliament House, Macquarie Street during the afternoon – see details and registration.
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