Towards a fairer housing system

Housing affordability and its contribution to the rising cost of living has been subject to higher than usual public interest over the last few years. It has encouraged many important discussions and a few key policy moves at the state political level. Momentum around affordable housing is growing, as shown by the Greater Sydney Commission’s recommendation of a conditional 5-10 per cent “affordable rental housing target” and proposed state-wide expansion of the inclusionary zoning mechanism State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70.

Yet much remains to be done if the government really wants to fix housing in NSW. Shelter NSW sums up what can and should be implemented so that everyone in our state can have access to a secure, affordable home.

What do we need?

The housing system is broken. More than three quarters of lower-income renters in NSW are paying unaffordable rent. Tax incentives favour speculation over first home buyers. Our social housing stock is decreasing in percentage of dwellings. Private rental is expensive and insecure.
Shelter NSW is asking candidates to commit to fixing housing in NSW this election. Implementation will be long and difficult. It will take real political courage. It can and needs to be done nonetheless.

Our election platform is focused around four key tasks that will make significant contributions to solving our problems.

First, we need to build more low-cost rental housing. This involves building at least 5,000 social housing dwellings a year for the next 10 years, just to keep up with population growth. To properly address the needs of very low-income households and significantly reduce the social housing waiting list would take closer to 18,000 extra social housing dwellings a year.

Second, we need to make housing fair for all by targeting the groups that face higher levels of disadvantage. Government should fund and increase the supply of Aboriginal controlled community housing to accommodate at least 15 per cent of the projected Aboriginal population. We need to address the gaps in current specialist homelessness services. We need to work towards housing independence for people with a disability.

We need to give better rights to renters so they can make their house a home. Making renting fair would start with removing “no grounds” evictions that allow landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason, and replace this by a set of reasonable grounds to terminate a lease.

Finally, we need to ensure that the redevelopment of Sydney and regional centres does not disproportionally affect lower-income households by replacing lower-cost housing with unaffordable housing. Implementing an inclusionary zoning target of 15 per cent minimum on private land and 30 per cent on public land would be a good start.

Let’s keep housing at the top of the political agenda where it belongs.

Shelter NSW full election platform can be found here: https://bit.ly/2EhM66E

Our special election edition of ‘Around the House’ explores these issues in more detail and discusses how housing policy might evolve. Find out more by visiting https://shelternsw.org.au or contact Thomas Chailloux, Engagement & Outreach Project officer at Thomas@shelternsw.org.au.

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