Focus required on affordable homes
A new focus on the provision of smaller, more affordable properties is urgently required to meet the needs of thousands on lower incomes across the Lower Hunter, Maitland and Newcastle according to regional community housing provider, Pacific Link Housing.
“Last year a study by the Samaritans Foundation found less than 1% of rentals properties in the Lower Hunter and Newcastle were affordable for a single person on the minimum wage,” said David Bacon, Chairman of Pacific Link Housing.
“If nothing changes families and others on low to moderate incomes will find it increasingly difficult to find an affordable rental they can call ‘home’.”
“High value workers like child-care and aged care workers are amongst thousands on the minimum wage – including hospitality, retail and many other workers. And as rentals rise they’re all competing for a shrinking number of affordable homes. Pacific Link CEO, Keith Gavin, believes the problem has its origins in traditional planning practices that favour the development of family homes and ignore the need for a wider range of more affordable housing options.
“In the past, it was left to government to sort out. But rising home values and rentals over recent years makes this an urgent problem that we all need to address.
“Not for profit providers like Pacific Link can play a major role, but we need to work within a context where local councils, land owners, developers and organisations like ours take a real interest in planning for and building more affordable housing.” The organisation is keen to play a larger part in providing and managing affordable housing in the Hunter.
“We are working hard, along with the NSW Government and others to develop new housing initiatives and models for the future,” he said, “but it’s going to be difficult without responsible planning and wide consensus on the need for more flexible housing solutions.
“Affordable, community and public housing is already changing,” he said.
“Where appropriate, some older public housing homes on quarter acre blocks have been redeveloped by Housing NSW to increase supply through the conversion of stand-alone homes into lowdensity unit blocks.
“In addition, Pacific Link now has a plan to add secondary dwellings or “granny flats” to existing single home housing properties. If approved by the NSW Government, the plan will help alleviate pent up demand for more affordable 1 and 2-bedroom homes”, he said.
Last year Pacific Link also formed a joint venture with Western Sydney-based provider, Evolve Housing to work on joint projects across their regions, starting with a NSW Government contract to build and manage three small sets of studio apartments planned for Western Sydney, the Central Coast and Lower Hunter.
The joint venture is now working with local authorities in these regions to determine areas of greatest need for the new studio apartments, with between 20 and 30 apartments planned for each of the three regions.