Planning for people, not profit
Alison Worthington - lead candidate for Eurobodalla Greens
In discussions around the role of local government in easing the housing affordability crisis it's often heard that "only the state or federal government can fix that" and that councils do not have a responsibility to provide affordable or social housing.
We hear from council statements like the following regarding the sale of council-owned Operational land in Dalmeny, in Eurobodalla Shire on the south coast of NSW:
"Council could develop the land itself however, Council is not resourced to undertake land development of this scale... It is considered the private sector is best placed to develop the land to meet market demand, hence the recommendation to sell the land." - ESC Ordinary Meeting Agenda 13 July 2021
I'm concerned that the private sector has fallen very far behind in meeting market demand, not just in Dalmeny, but across the south east region where we are experiencing both a homelessness and housing affordability crisis AND a severe shortage of all housing.
The private sector plans for profits, not people. We need to start planning for the wellbeing of our communities, ensuring everyone has access to the basic human right of secure housing - planning for people, not profit.
It's going to take urgent action from all levels of government to alleviate the housing stress in our communities. Local councils can't opt out here - it's time to think more creatively about what it would take for our council to be resourced to be an affordable housing provider.
In the first instance, Eurobodalla Greens are calling on council to conduct an urgent audit of all council land suitable for affordable housing development.
Council also needs to prioritise developing a Homelessness and Affordable Housing Strategy, which currently sits in the ESC Local Strategic Planning Strategy 2020-2040 as only a medium-term priority.
A Greens-led council will do more for affordable housing
The Greens on council will make full use of the existing planning rules to get proper benefits for the community from new development.
Councils can directly deliver affordable housing by partnering with a community housing providers (CHP) or state government to build affordable housing on council-owned land. Councils should also use financial contributions made through the development process (e.g. affordable housing levies or voluntary planning agreements) to contribute to the funding for either of the above.
Other possibilities include:
A council land purchase or gift for affordable housing, partnering with the State govt. and/or a local community housing provider;
Introducing an Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme, incorporated into the LEP, which requires developers to contribute to council's affordable housing strategy;
Development consents requiring a percentage of new developments (such as over 55's villages) to be affordable housing;
Introducing incentives for owners of vacant properties or holiday lettings to increase the number of permanent housing rentals;
Council owned affordable housing such as a retirement homes or crisis accommodation.
Greens councillors will ensure that there is broad community engagement in the creation of the Homelessness and Affordable Housing Strategy so that we can find the best of these models to meet our needs here in the Eurobodalla.
When council remains a stakeholder in affordable housing developments we have the opportunity to design community rather than developer-led housing solutions. We get to have more say in the design, sustainability and management of the housing.
Our shire also benefits from applying the ESC Local Procurement Policy to support local businesses.
We can’t afford to leave this housing shortage unattended for any longer. Housing is a basic right and we need to ensure that everyone in our community has both secure tenancy and choice around that.
Access to secure housing is critical to our social and emotional wellbeing.