MEDIA RELEASE: Committee for Sydney releases road map to fix Sydney’s affordable housing crisis

MEDIA RELEASE: Committee for Sydney releases road map to fix Sydney’s affordable housing crisis
August 13, 2015 Committee for Sydney

Thursday 13th August

The Committee for Sydney today launched an Issues Paper outlining 5 innovative ideas to tackle Sydney’s lack of affordable housing.

Titled ‘A City For All: Five game-changers for Affordable Housing in Sydney’, the report details simple steps that the NSW Government can take to achieve a significant increase in access to affordable housing for low-middle income households and have a positive impact for all Sydneysiders suffering housing stress.

“Ensuring the existence of affordable housing is at the heart of how we shape the future of Sydney. With Sydney now acknowledged as being the third most expensive city for real estate in the world, there is no more pressing issue than how we house the growing Sydney population”, said Dr Tim Williams, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, commenting on the release of the report.

“We cannot rely on the market to supply housing for low-income earners without some leadership from government,” said Dr Williams. “Our recommendations mean a new partnership between developers, community housing providers and crucially, the NSW Government, to achieve new housing models for people unable to access affordable housing options.”

“We’ve taken this opportunity to explore 5 ideas to kick start the conversation and move Sydney from a good city to a great city,” Dr Williams went on to say.

This latest Issues Paper from the Committee explores game-changers for affordable housing in Sydney. It examines not just the issue of supply but public policy and specific interventions that meet the needs of diverse groups, including key workers such as medical staff, teachers and emergency services employees, understanding that supply alone will not achieve a city accessible for all.

The five game-changers for Sydney include:

  1. Maximise the use of public land.  Government holds significant land, whether it’s Transport for NSW holding land next to train stations, or the Ministry for Health with land next to hospitals. We recommend that the NSW Government audit its entire land-bank in Sydney to identify the potential sites for affordable housing initiatives.
  2. Transfer public housing stock to the community housing sector. Community housing providers are offering better outcomes for vulnerable and marginalised people than the Government is. Transferring stock will allow them to expand their offering and use their stock to leverage more private investment and create more housing.
  3. Government incentives to trigger private investment into affordable housing. Leveraging the Premier’s $1b new social and affordable housing fund to support private investment.
  4. Invest significantly in the existing public housing stock. Ensuring properties are used to improve the lives of the people on the margins and make the next step on the housing ladder that much easier.
  5. Create the conditions in which private sector developers can deliver a proportion of affordable homes in all developments. The private sector is supportive of ‘inclusionary zoning’ under the right conditions. The key is for developers to know before they buy the land what the obligations will be so that these can be factored into the purchase price.

These ideas highlight the necessity of collaboration between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and the need for Government to understand the role it can play. There is great potential for the Government to use its resources – land, regulatory and planning tools – to enable the private sector and community housing providers to make a difference to the provision of affordable housing in Sydney.

“We see the impact of our inaccessible housing market on a daily basis, in the sheer numbers of people who come to us in urgent need of a roof over their heads,” said Acting CEO of SGCH, Trevor Wetmore. “We need an integrated housing strategy that brings together government, not for profits and private investors to help reduce homelessness and poverty. We are working with government on a number of reviews and discussions and see this paper as the blueprint for turning discussion into action. .

“SGCH is enormously encouraged by the efforts of the Government so far and are positive that we will have a clear direction in the foreseeable future on how we can address the problems that face social and affordable housing” he continued.

Dominic Sullivan, General Manager of PAYCE Consolidated, also highlighted that affordable housing is a fundamental issue for Sydney and one which PAYCE is passionate about. “PAYCE are thrilled to have collaborated on this paper with the Committee and see this as a positive step forward in identifying real and deliverable solutions. We’re proud of the work we’ve done at Washington Park, Riverwood, offering not just affordable housing but amenities, open spaces and community. We are keen to continue collaborating with the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to determine and implement more tangible solutions to this crisis facing Sydney,” he went on to say.

No one sector has the answer to this issue. These game-changers are a starting point for a debate, encouraging innovative thinking and collaboration and aiming to bring about solutions to benefit all those affected by Sydney’s lack of affordable housing options.

Read the report here.

CfS Issues Paper 8 - A City for All - Five Game Changers for Affordable Housing in Sydney (dragged)