Housing affordability crisis: ‘People just can’t get a house’

NEW APPROACH: Bega Valley Shire councillor Cathy Griff with NSW Greens David Shoebridge to discuss creating affordable housing recently.
NEW APPROACH: Bega Valley Shire councillor Cathy Griff with NSW Greens David Shoebridge to discuss creating affordable housing recently.

A different approach to creating affordable housing is being discussed on the Far South Coast.

NSW Greens local government spokesman David Shoebridge visited the region to discuss the possibility of an empty homes levy to be used by council to help fund “public, social and affordable housing”.

“Across the country we have a housing affordability crisis,” Mr Shoebridge said during a recent visit.

“At the same time we are seeing homelessness, extreme housing vulnerability, and a record level of empty homes.”

Last year’s census results show almost 20 per cent of private dwellings in the Bega Valley Shire are unoccupied.

This is twice the state average, and much higher than the national rate of 11.2 per cent.

“This means young people can’t get access to the rental market, and for those on the private market the cost of renting is much higher because there’s less properties available,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The census also found a third of local households have a weekly income of less than $650.

“We’re seeing there’s an extremely large number of vacant properties and empty homes in coastal areas, sitting beside communities where young families and older people just can’t get a house,” Mr Shoebridge said.

In November last year, a move was made for British councils to be able to double an annual charge paid by homeowners who leave properties empty, and Canada has looked at the idea.

Mr Shoebridge said investment properties used as a “getaway home”, are being held on to by owners in order to benefit from, then selling it on a rising property market.

He said the issue is compounded by stamp duty concessions, capital gains concessions and negative gearing.

A tripling of council rates would create an incentive for property owners and investors, who receive “unfair tax benefits”, to open a property to the private rental market, or even sell their property, Mr Shoebridge said.

“They should pay their fair share to the community,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Unless you have some sort of government intervention the housing affordability crisis is just going to get worse.

“I have a concern we will see substantial price inflation, pricing out even more families.

“Property investors are looking at regional NSW, which is driving prices up.”

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