The City of Sydney has released a much needed Housing Issues Paper, considering the challenges to obtain affordable housing amidst a housing crisis across Sydney. As the Paper notes, living in Sydney is becoming more and more unmanageable for people on a low to middle income, whilst services awarding such rates are essential to the productivity and functionality of our city. Such workers can include our teachers, our nurse staff and our police, as well as many of our retail and industrial workers. These are services and people who are instrumental to our inner city life, and we must make room for them by providing them with housing that is within their means.
Furthermore, I am concerned for the future of public housing, as State Government’s ubiquitous sell-offs have me unconvinced of their commitment to housing those who need it most. Profit seems to be driving the movement, and under this climate, Sydney will become a homogenous zone for the rich, and we will all lose out. Public housing is under the knife, being trimmed away from the heartland of Sydney to make room for monstrous and exorbitant developments that are attracting offshore investors. This is becoming an inequitable city that is open only for those on a high income. We must combat this by providing a significant increase in affordable housing.
I also have concerns about the acceptance of the concept that all public housing will be moved to community housing in the future, and I will be lobbying to ensure that rents and conditions are not changed during the handover which could restrict eligibility for ex-public housing tenants.
Council’s Paper attempts to combat this growing threat of rising prices, and does so within its means. However, the Paper remains lacklustre in its goals for public housing and Renter’s Rights, a policy put forth by the Greens which ensures housing stability and fairness as a renter. Whilst I am disappointed at the modest goals that Council has set to achieve housing affordability, we unfortunately remain constrained by the State Government. We must obtain legislation which demands targets for every new development in order to make real changes in the current housing crisis.
The City of Sydney has moved for such changes. In Harold Park, the City has ensured that 1000 square meters of land is reserved for affordable housing; in Barangaroo, the City lobbied the State Government to ensure that at least 10% of residents have access to affordable housing, but sadly they have only agreed to 2.3%; for the Green Square project, Council is aiming to provide 330 rental units for a mix of very low to moderate income earners; 88 affordable housing units have been secured in North Eveleigh; 104 dwellings through the Common Ground project in Camperdown; and the Ultimo/Pyrmont housing contribution program accounts for 600 affordable housing dwellings. Meanwhile, the Glebe Affordable Housing project is yet to come into fruition and there are further planned developments at the depot in Gibbons and Marion Street in Redfern. We must do more, but we need cooperation from the State Government in order to maintain and preserve the character of our city, and to ensure that we remain home to socio-economically diverse residents.