Government response to inquiry must deliver action on housing crisis

NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing Jan Barham is urging the Government to follow through with a comprehensive implementation plan on housing affordability after its response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing supported many of the recommendations.

“Although this response has been a long time coming, the NSW Government’s predominately positive responses to the inquiry’s recommendations and acknowledgement of its extensive examination of the issues relating to social and affordable housing is welcome”, said Ms Barham.

“Our inquiry found that there was a clear shortage of affordable and social housing across Sydney and New South Wales. The Government’s support for the provision and maintenance of affordable housing to be a key objective of the state planning system, including support for planning controls such as inclusionary zoning to develop more affordable housing is a positive step forward.”

“It’s essential that the Government now acts to deliver more affordable housing and improve the opportunity for people on low and moderate incomes to find a stable and suitable home close to jobs, education and services. The Government must make it a priority to support the delivery of additional affordable housing supply and maintain existing stock.”

“The Government has also acknowledged that there are already a number of planning instruments available to develop affordable housing within the private market. There is more that can be done to ensure new development delivers a range of housing types and diverse communities, instead of increasing gentrification.”

Some important recommendations were rejected by the Government.

“The opposition to making housing affordability a relevant consideration in disputes regarding excessive site fee increases for residential park residents is unfair. Most park residents are on low incomes and housing affordability should be a key consideration when the NSW Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal considers unfair fee increases.”

“It’s also disappointing the Government rejected a proposal for ten per cent of dwellings in multi-unit properties sold by the state in Sydney to be allocated as affordable housing. Sydney has an acute shortage of social and affordable housing and this recommendation offers a low-cost way of boosting supply.”

“A whole of government approach and better collaboration with Federal and local governments is needed to halt the increasing housing crisis and ensure prospective home owners and renters can secure an affordable home,” Ms Barham said.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Background: Social, Public and Affordable Housing Inquiry report and Government response

Related: Government must back social housing growth with public investment, support services and housing affordability reform

Government must back social housing growth with public investment, support services and housing affordability reform

Photograph of houses

The Greens’ Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to grow social housing supply as a long-overdue response to the state’s housing crisis, but has called on the Government to commit to investment and substantial reforms that are needed to provide affordable and secure housing.

“The Greens welcome the commitment to grow social housing supply and support the community housing sector to increase its capacity. This would be a step toward addressing the neglect social housing has suffered under successive governments. But with 60,000 people currently on the waiting list, overcoming the housing crisis in New South Wales must be a priority across the whole of Government,” Ms Barham said.

“The Government must direct public investment into delivering new social housing supply, in addition to their plan to draw on the capacity of the private and non-government sectors. The Greens announced a housing initiative before the 2015 election to establish an immediate $4.5 billion funding stream for new social and affordable housing, which could be delivered without the sale or redevelopment of public assets. This new funding would add a significant boost to the supply of social and public housing.

“The Government’s approach deliver private developers a windfall from their 70% share of the higher-density redeveloped public housing sites. It’s crucial that state and local governments capture a fair share of the increased value coming from rezoning and redevelopment in all new property developments across the state, and that those funds are reinvested into delivering more social and affordable housing and infrastructure.”

Ms Barham warned that the Government must do more to support existing social housing tenants affected by the proposed redevelopments of older stock.

“The Government must learn the lessons from a history of mishandled relocations, including the ongoing sell-off at Millers Point, that have affected the wellbeing of tenants, many of whom are older or vulnerable. These tenants must be genuinely consulted and supported to minimise the social impacts of displacement and disruption. Tenants deserve the opportunity to age in place, remain in the area where their life is based and maintain their connections to services and social supports.

“It’s important that the Government works to develop regionally-focused models for housing and wrap-around services that address the rise in homelessness by providing additional support and options at the local level. Social housing and the services that support it must meet the specific needs of the locations and the population groups that are most disadvantaged and have the greatest difficulty accessing housing, including Aboriginal people, people with disability, older people and youth. I strongly encourage the Government to work closely with local government and community organisations across all regions,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that although a boost of social housing was essential, the social housing system would continue to fall short of addressing need unless all levels of government worked to address the full range of factors affecting housing affordability in Sydney and many regions across the state.

“Even with more social housing, people will continue to face severe problems accessing affordable housing and increased risk of homelessness unless all levels of government address the high housing costs, low rental vacancies and insecure tenure in the private housing market. This includes addressing the tax policies and other factors that are driving speculative investment without improving the supply of new affordable housing,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Climate Action NSW

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Governments are failing our community on climate change. It’s essential that we care for the wellbeing of future generations and protect our communities and the environment. If we don’t address global warming and its impact on our climate, we’ll leave an unsafe environment and a compromised quality of life as consequences of our inaction.

The Greens are committed to strong action on climate change. We need communities, businesses and all levels of government – federal, state and local – to play their part. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation that would lock in mandatory targets to ensure NSW achieves net zero emissions by 2040, require all government agencies to plan for how we will reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, and allow court proceedings to hold the government accountable for decisions that undermine climate action.

You can lend your support by visiting the Climate Action NSW website and pledging your Commitment to Climate Action.