Public and Affordable Housing Needs To Be Key In Waterloo Metro Development

NSW Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong, which covers the Redfern area, and Jan Barham, Housing spokesperson have responded to today’s announcement that a private Metro station will be built in Waterloo highlighting the serious housing concerns.

Two thousand existing public housing residences will be demolished to make way for the development.

Member for Newtown Jenny Leong says:

“The announcement by the state Government today will see Urban Growth taking over the development of large parts of our Redfern/Waterloo public housing community. This is cause for serious concern – not because redevelopment of public housing isn’t needed, but because Urban Growth’s track record in our area has seen some pretty devastating outcomes – including the selloff of the Australian Technology Park site and massive proposed overdevelopment at North Eveleigh.”

“While we acknowledge the Government’s commitment that the number of social housing dwellings will be maintained in the new development, we need to ensure that these dwellings will continue to house the same number of residents.

“We have seen cases of redevelopment of public housing where the number of dwellings has been maintained but with a significant reduction in size. As a minimum we need a commitment that there will be no reduction in the number of bedrooms or number of residents that can be housed.

“Our community needs a significant investment in affordable housing, which needs to come on top of any commitment to maintain existing public housing.

“Reports suggesting two thirds of the redevelopment will be private and one third social and affordable housing has the priorities wrong – we need to see these figures reversed.

“Urban Growth might pull all the strings when it comes to decisions made by the NSW Government but they do not control this community.

NSW Greens Spokesperson for Housing, Social Housing and Homelessness Jan Barham says:

“With almost 60,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in NSW it’s not enough to maintain existing numbers of social housing properties. The redevelopment around Waterloo is a prime opportunity to provide more inner-city social housing, which allows people experiencing disadvantage to live close to transport and with good access to opportunities for work, education and support services.

“The private rental market in inner Sydney is simply out of reach for people on low and moderate incomes, leaving too many essential workers forced with long commutes and reduced quality of life. The windfall that will come from the private residential components of this development should allow the Government to allocate a higher percentage of the dwellings to be affordable rental housing to accommodate more of these key workers.

“It’s important that the design of this area promotes accessibility and creates housing opportunities for people with disability and older people, for whom much of the existing housing stock is inappropriate.”

“Minister Hazzard’s assurance that existing residents will have the opportunity to transition into new social housing in the area where their life, services and social supports are based is welcome but must be managed appropriately. It’s essential that the Government minimises displacement and disruption for tenants and makes every effort to ensure they maintain their community connections and aren’t forced to move far away due to the lack of suitable housing nearby.”

Further information:

Dan Buhagiar for Jenny Leong 0457 512 649
Jan Barham 0447 853 891

Greens welcome Shelter NSW proposals to address housing affordability and wellbeing

Jan Barham, Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, has welcomed Shelter NSW’s 2016 budget proposals as a reminder to Government that urgent and comprehensive action is needed on housing.

“Addressing the housing crisis in NSW requires a coordinated approach from the Government that addresses all of the factors affecting general housing affordability for buyers and renters, while ensuring the wellbeing of those who are most vulnerable to gaps in our housing system,” Ms Barham said.

“A long-term boost in social and affordable housing is essential to ensure that people on low and moderate incomes will have the opportunity to live in housing that is suited to their needs and close to their essential work and educational opportunities.

“The Government’s proposed Social and Affordable Housing Fund to deliver $1 billion of new supply is a welcome start but won’t be enough to produce the necessary, enduring growth in affordable housing.

“These proposals from Shelter NSW, including a 10-year social housing boost, 15% affordable housing requirements in all high density developments and developer contributions to ensure a share of the windfalls from rezoning are invested back into affordable housing, offer a pathway to deliver significant growth in social and affordable housing for years to come.

“Reforms to taxation and tenancy laws are also needed to reconfigure the housing system from being driven by speculative investment to being focused on the importance of everyone having a secure home.

“The proposal to broaden the base of land tax would promote the efficient use of our available property and could allow a transition away from stamp duty, which is inefficient and a disincentive to downsizing.

“Removing “no cause” evictions as part of the current review of tenancy laws would provide renters with greater security of tenure and improved wellbeing.

“The proposals also identify key investments that are needed to address areas of housing disadvantage and inequity, including through ensuring homelessness services can reach all people in need, delivering the housing for people with disability that will not be provided through the NDIS, and expanding the capacity of the Aboriginal housing sector.”

Ms Barham noted that the NSW Government had still failed to respond to a comprehensive inquiry into social, public and affordable housing whose recommendations were delivered in September 2014.

“The Government has missed multiple deadlines to develop and deliver the housing policies they need, and our parliamentary inquiry handed them a blueprint for many of the changes that are required.

“I welcome the housing sector’s ongoing efforts to show the NSW Government what can and must be done, and the Greens urge the Government to get serious about delivering a coordinated plan that addresses all of the factors undermining housing affordability in New South Wales,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Housing Everyone: 10 proposals for the 2016 state budget and beyond

Final Report of the Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing

Productivity Commission report a wake-up call for the NSW Government to improve affordable housing for older people

The Productivity Commission’s report on the Housing Decisions of Older Australians released today is a wake-up call for the NSW Government to improve housing affordability for older people.

“The Productivity Commission highlights that older people are constrained in their housing choices because of a lack of age-appropriate housing, and, to some degree, inefficient taxes such as stamp duty”, said Greens spokesperson for Housing and Ageing Jan Barham.

“There is a lack of age-appropriate housing in NSW, which discourages downsizing and sees some older people prematurely enter nursing homes because their home is inaccessible. This issue was identified by both the inquiry into Social, public and affordable housing and the inquiry into Registered nurses in NSW nursing homes.”

“Stamp duty presents another barrier to downsizing and the NSW Government should explore ways of removing this inefficient tax to facilitate smarter use of housing supply.”

“Of great concern is the increasing number of older people who live in private rental, with 220,000 older Australians renting privately. Up to 45% of older private renters are in housing stress, where they pay more than 30% of their income in rent alone. Older renters in New South Wales face insecure tenure, which can have a huge detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing.”

Ms Barham said this report highlights a disconnect between housing and aged care policies as well as a lack of planning at a state level in preparing for an ageing population.

“The NSW Government must invest in a range of affordable and age-appropriate housing options for both older homeowners and private renters so that they can age in place. NSW must increase social housing supply, targeting areas of highest demand, but also explore other options such as increasing supply of independent living units and improving consumer protections in, and affordability of, retirement villages.”

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

The Productivity Commission Report on the Housing Decisions of Older Australians

Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing Recommendations and Final Report

Inquiry into Registered nurses in New South Wales nursing homes

Renters Rights – Jenny Leong, Greens MP and Rental Tenancies Spokesperson

Auditor-General’s report gives Government another reminder that they need to deliver on social housing

The NSW Government has again been called on to deliver policies and programs to ensure the social housing system delivers better outcomes for people in need of housing assistance, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and Housing spokesperson.

“Today’s report by the Auditor-General on community housing recommends that the Government deliver a comprehensive social housing policy and make public its plan for managing public housing assets. After delaying for far too long, it’s time for the Government to act and fix our social housing system,” Ms Barham said.

“This is the third major report to give clear directions about what the Government needs to deliver, following the Parliamentary Inquiry we established in 2014 and a previous Auditor-General’s report in 2013. The Government has failed to meet every deadline it has been given, and it’s time for them to deliver.”

Ms Barham noted that the Auditor-General had also identified that Government needed to improve its handling of transfers to community housing by developing clear performance measures and contracts that ensure the future growth of the sector.

“The Auditor-General notes that there has been strong growth in the community housing sector, which is welcome. Community housing providers across the state are an important part of our housing system, providing not just shelter but connecting disadvantage and vulnerable people with support services that help to improve the quality and stability of their living arrangements,” Ms Barham said.

“Our Parliamentary inquiry had identified the importance of long term leases when public housing is transferred to community housing providers, along with the need for improved tenant outcomes, and the Auditor-General has reinforced these recommendations.

“Community housing providers need to be able to leverage the assets to deliver new social housing. The Government must ensure that their relationships and contracts with community housing providers will secure quality housing and support services for as many people as possible,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

BACKGROUND:

Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report on Community Housing

Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing Recommendations and Final Report

Making the Best Use of Public Housing

NSW Budget: Government doesn’t deliver on affordable housing despite stamp duty windfall

The Greens have criticised the NSW Government for delivering a 2015-16 Budget that benefits from a boom in stamp duty revenue yet fails to do enough to ensure the availability of affordable housing across Sydney and the state.

Jan Barham, Greens NSW Housing spokesperson said:

“The healthy position of the NSW Budget rests on the skyrocketing rate of stamp duty revenue, which is driven by the red hot property market in Sydney and other parts of the state. Even with the forecast ‘moderation’ of residential stamp duty next year, the Government’s income from houses changing hands is expected to rise by another 11.8 percent in the coming year.

“Housing affordability pressures are a continuing challenge for people in New South Wales. We need a whole-of-government approach to fix it, and sadly the Budget doesn’t show the willingness to ensure that people will find affordable, appropriate homes where they want to live and work.

“Although there is some new investment in social housing and boosting general supply, there is little sign of a plan to deliver affordable homes for people on low and moderate incomes in the areas where they’re desperately needed.

“The NSW housing and homelessness peak bodies have rejected claims that increasing supply will solve the housing affordability crisis. They recognise that we need tax reform, along with public investment and private incentives to deliver affordable housing.”

Jenny Leong, Greens MP for Newtown and Rental Housing spokesperson, said:

“This Budget has no signs of relief for people struggling to pay rents in Sydney and across NSW. Rents in some parts of Sydney have almost doubled in the past decade. Wages clearly haven’t. People in NSW are increasingly suffering from housing stress.

“The Government’s own ‘Mapping the Budget’ tool shows that there are only four affordable housing projects funded in the City of Sydney, and none in the surrounding local government areas including Marrickville and Leichhardt.

“Selling off public housing and failing to protect long-term renters is not a long-term solution to housing affordability in NSW.”

For Further Comment:
Jan Barham – 0447 853 891
Jenny Leong – 0433 753 376

Background:

Joint statement by housing and homelessness peaks on affordable housing

Anglicare snapshot shows that it’s time for urgent action on housing affordability crisis

An important new Rental Affordability Snapshot from Anglicare highlights the need for broad reforms to housing policy and tenancy laws to address the crisis in the state’s housing sector, warn the Greens.

Jenny Leong, Greens MP for Newtown and Rental Housing spokesperson, said:

“The Greens have a plan for improving the rights of renters in Sydney to ease rental stress and provide people who are renting with more security.

“Rent increases in Sydney are out of control. The average cost to rent a two bedroom apartment or house in Redfern has jumped from $350 to a staggering $650 a week in the last ten years.

“Over the past months I have been speaking with many residents in the inner city and inner west who are really concerned about astronomical rents and ever-increasing insecurity.

“The Greens will introduce legislation into NSW Parliament to protect renters’ rights, including putting an end to ‘no grounds’ evictions and limiting rent increases. We must put in place provisions to protect those most vulnerable from dodgy landlords and housing insecurity.

“If our initiatives had been in place over the last 10 years, average rents would have risen just 38 per cent, not the 77 per cent we’ve actually seen. Greens initiatives would have seen a saving $126 a week for renters in a 2 bedroom house.

“The Greens will work with organisations like Anglicare to advocate and campaign for effective improvements to housing and tenancy legislation in NSW,” Ms Leong said.

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Housing and Homelessness, said:

“Last year the Parliamentary housing inquiry I initiated delivered 41 recommendations to improve social and affordable housing in NSW, which were welcomed by many in the housing and social service sectors as a blueprint to address the housing crisis.

“The Government chose to ignore the inquiry’s recommendations, hiding behind the caretaker provisions to avoid responding when the report had been available for six months. The Government must respond to the inquiry recommendations that were based on detailed evidence from experts in the sector.

“Right now, the Government could support the community housing sector to boost social housing by giving certainty about title transfers. They could implement planning measures to ensure local governments can ensure affordable housing is included in new housing developments.

Ms Barham also called on the NSW Government to lock in key housing partnerships with the federal government and ensure the impacts of federal tax policy on housing affordability are considered.

“The State Government needs to act quickly to commit funding and secure federal commitments to allocate funding for long-term housing programs, including the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and the National Affordable Housing Agreement.

“The NSW Government must highlight the impact of federal tax policy in driving housing costs to unaffordable levels. They need to push for a federal discussion of reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount to reduce price pressures and deliver additional housing,” Ms Barham concluded.

Contacts:

  • Jan Barham: 0447 853 891
  • Jenny Leong: 0433 753 376 (Mark Riboldi)

Background:

Greens call for review of whether tax breaks are delivering housing supply

The Greens’ spokesperson on Housing, Tourism and the North Coast, Jan Barham MLC, has called for a review of tax concessions for investment properties and whether they are in fact improving the availability of rental housing stock.

“As a North Coast resident I am concerned at the evidence of 900 homes in both the Byron and Tweed local government areas being used for tourism purposes,” said Ms Barham.

“It is possible that many of these properties are being claimed as investment properties and despite the use being unapproved at this time, there hasn’t been an examination of whether the Federal Government’s negative gearing and capital gains tax provisions are supporting a loss of housing stock and the erosion of community.”

For many years the Byron Shire community has raised concerns about the impact of holiday letting on the availability and affordability of housing in the shire. Recently the Tweed council staff presented a report to alert council to the use of dwellings in that shire for tourism rather than the approved permanent residential use.

“The Land and Environment Court decision in 2013 about a case in Gosford made it very clear that the use for tourism accommodation of approved dwellings in residential areas was prohibited. Now councils have to reconcile this decision with what is happening in each council area.

“The Federal Government’s tax discussion paper, which was released earlier this week, shows that the total tax deductions claimed for investment properties have grown and are now larger than the total rental income earned by Australian property owners.

“If this substantial tax break is being used on the North Coast for commercial gain by turning residential properties into tourist accommodation, it is actually working against the desired outcome of providing more rental housing stock.

“Some form of review and regulation is needed to ensure that generous bonus to property investors delivers some form of social benefit,” Ms Barham concluded.

For further comment, contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Incoming Government must support a fairer and more caring society

Jan Barham, the Greens’ spokesperson for the North Coast, Aboriginal Affairs, Housing, Ageing, Disabilty and Community Services, has called on the re-elected Coalition Government to adopt a more caring and strategic approach with a priority focus on housing and community services for areas of high vulnerability and disadvantage such as the North Coast.

“The high levels of people who are unemployed, aged, have a disability and receiving income and parenting support payments is an indication of the disadvantage and vulnerability in our region. The risk is that if priorities don’t change with the next government we will see a continuation of vulnerability that can result in intergenerational disadvantage. Without changes there could be more people living in poverty and excluded from full participation in society,” said Ms Barham.

“There must be a focus on investing in communities to deliver fairness and improved opportunity to participate in all aspects of life. It’s time to look at the needs of this community and prepare for the future, with a more caring and compassionate approach.

“In this election campaign the Greens prioritised a boost in social housing with funding of $4.5 billion to build 20,000 homes over 4 years. With some of the longest waiting lists in NSW, there should be a significant increase on the north coast. The lack of affordable housing is threatening the health and wellbeing of the community and putting many at risk of homelessness, especially the young, the elderly and Aboriginal community members.

“Many older people living in caravan parks are facing unaffordable rent increases or eviction, with no other options available. NSW needs new legislation to provide the security and affordability required for our valued older citizens living in parks and villages.”

The Greens are also calling for secondary dwellings grants to assist property owners to build for the aged and disabled.

“We need to deliver appropriately designed and dedicated housing to allow people to stay living in community rather than being forced to move away from their neighbours and families. Funding support at a local level would grow the stock of housing needed and retain community cohesion,” said Ms Barham.

Ms Barham noted that with an ageing population, the NDIS, domestic violence, child protection concerns and a significant Aboriginal population, the region needs additional workers in the community services area to address and prevent risk for the most vulnerable in our community.

“Some of the disadvantage experienced in the region could be overcome with a greater investment in early intervention services and additional workers. The community service sector is in need of additional staff and the Greens are calling for a training financial assistance scheme to encourage and support more people entering the caring workforce. The need for increased Aboriginal specialist services is crucial and would create much needed employment opportunities as well as culturally appropriate services,” said Ms Barham.

Taxis are the main form of transport for some residents who have significant disabilities to allow them to access medical, health and work opportunities.

“The Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme has not been increased for 16 years and this is grossly unfair. An increase in this vital service would benefit inclusion for those who are otherwise disadvantaged, especially in the regions,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham also warned that recent funding cuts by the Federal Government to parent and youth services have shown a lack of foresight and investment in the future, which the NSW Government must work to rectify.

“The Greens call on the State Government to lobby against the Federal Government funding cuts to important programs that support young people at risk and that provide skills for the transition to adulthood and independent living, and to make up for any shortfall in federal funding as they have done for pensioner concessions. The funding cuts to important programs that support new parents are a dangerous move that puts child welfare at risk, and which will end up creating additional social harms and put pressure on state services in child protection, juvenile justice and other sectors,” said Ms Barham.

“It’s time to overcome the history of the major parties ignoring the needs of the regions. While North Coast seats were a major focus in this election and coal seam gas was an especially crucial issue, the wellbeing of North Coast communities has been off the radar for too long.

“Without a commitment to social infrastructure investment for the region, there will be continuing disadvantage. The true test of a progressive society is how well we care for those in need and plan for the future wellbeing of all of our residents.

“The Greens are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our society. I will be focusing on these issues when Parliament resumes, hopefully with two new North Coast Greens members in the Legislative Assembly to echo the focus for the region’s communities,” Ms Barham concluded.

For further comment, contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Planning for a more caring community

  1. Investment in social housing – announced $4.5 billion to deliver 20,000 new homes in NSW over 4 years
  2. Financial grants for the delivery of appropriately designed secondary dwellings for older and disabled people – $20,000 per property
  3. Care Workforce Strategy – grants to assist people in training in the community sector – aged, disability and child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  4. Residential Parks protection – legislation to secure the rights of people living in residential parks against high fees and eviction
  5. Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme – increase funding that has been stagnant for 16 years
  6. Youth programs – return funding to crucial youth programs that have been cut by federal government eg. Links to Learning, Youth Connections and REALskills – approx. $700,000 for region

NSW must match federal homelessness funding and target services to meet urgent needs

The Greens have called on all parties in NSW to commit to matching the Federal Government’s two-year additional funding allocation to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and to ensure the funds will be allocated to address areas of greatest need and fill service gaps resulting from last year’s reforms to the homelessness sector.

Jan Barham, the Greens’ Housing and Homelessness spokesperson, said: “Homelessness is a priority issue that deserves more than a 2 year continuation of funding.

“Addressing and preventing homelessness needs a 10 year cooperative plan across all levels of government, but the Federal Government’s commitment at least provides some continuity for a sector that was facing uncertainty about the future of many services.

“We now need urgent clarification as to whether the next NSW Government will match the funds as required in the partnership model and where those funds will be spent.

“We cannot have a repeat of the previous one-year extension, when it took until early February 2015 for the NSW and Federal Governments to announce their plan for the allocation of funds for a financial year that had begun in July of 2014.

“A review of the state government’s allocation model must identify areas of need and a focus on regions and populations where there are gaps in services,” said Ms Barham.

“Last year we saw the chaotic process with the Going Home, Staying Home funding allocations that saw dramatic changes to service provision for homelessness, including the loss of services and closure of some refuges. What has resulted is an overall loss of funding to some regions such as the far north coast, with the loss of some $2.5million that provided key homelessness services to support people which were seen as highly effective, including the Accommodation Project and the Tenancy Support program.”

“The Federal Government’s announcement is an opportunity for NSW to see commitments to address the problems and challenges that have arisen. We need targeted investment in programs that support some of the most vulnerable people including those who are fleeing family violence, young people and many of our older community members.

“As well as addressing the crisis of homelessness, we need all parties to allocate government funding to boosting the availability of housing and relieving housing affordability pressures. The Greens have detailed our $20billion infrastructure package, which includes a $4.5billion investment to deliver 20,000 social and affordable housing properties over two years.

“The Greens have continued to press the NSW and Federal governments to work out a long-term, effective agreement to provide certainty for the homelessness sector and develop the services and capacity required to begin reducing the numbers of people who are facing homelessness.

“All parties should immediately commit to implement the two-year funding extension and to urgently review and improve the funding allocation to ensure the best possible delivery of homelessness services to the vulnerable people who need support,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Baird Government runs and hides instead of tackling the housing crisis

Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has slammed the Coalition Government’s refusal to provide a response to the Parliamentary inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing until after the NSW election.

“The Select Committee inquiry that was established by the Greens delivered its final report last September. The Baird Government had almost six months to consider the report and provide its response. Instead of responding a week before the due date, they’ve waited until the last minute to announce they’ll hide behind the caretaker provisions,” Ms Barham said.

“The inquiry’s 41 recommendations, most of which were unanimously supported by the committee, were welcomed by housing advocacy and social service organisations as a blueprint for the desperately needed action to address the housing crisis in NSW.

“Instead of delivering a response and a plan for affordable and social housing, the Baird Government have spent the past six months consulting on a discussion paper that ignored all of the available evidence and took us all back to square one.

“It looks like they intend to wait until the election is done before carrying on with their unsustainable sell-off of public housing and underinvestment in delivering the affordable and social housing we need, throughout Sydney and across the state.

Ms Barham said that any that wouldn’t set out how they would boost the availability of appropriate social and affordable housing was dodging one of the key issues for NSW.

“The Greens have set out our economic plan that would deliver $4.5 billion in funding for social and affordable housing. We would see government bonds used to drive rapid investment to increase the housing available to people on low and moderate incomes, in the inner city, the suburbs and regional centres.

“The Greens want to see the recommendations of the Select Committee implemented by whoever forms government after 28th March. We moved to establish this inquiry because housing affordability and the social housing system were deteriorating after successive governments had failed to deliver the funding, the policy settings and the whole of government commitment that was required.

“We need a housing system that gives priority to helping people to afford a secure, appropriately-located and configured place they can call home. Without adequate housing, people and families are deprived of the opportunities for work, education and social support that are essential to their wellbeing. By punting the issue a few more months down the road, the Coalition has neglected its responsibility to care for the people of NSW,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Background:

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