‘It’s investing in our future’: Affordable housing roundtable success

The search for a solution to the lack of affordable and social housing made a positive step forward this week, according to advocates.

A roundtable discussion was held on Tuesday, with agencies, services, advocates and property owners joining Bega Valley Shire Council staff and councillors to work on a plan to help ease the hardships felt by many residents.

I am happy if we make small steps, as long as there’s concrete progress.

Bega Valley Shire Councillor Cathy Griff

Bega Valley Shire councillor Cathy Griff said this week’s roundtable discussion was about “fostering partnerships” as a step towards dealing with the “huge topic”.

In December last year, Cr Griff proposed council staff earmark land with the possibility of being used for the construction of affordable housing, with the motion getting unanimous support from councillors.

“I’ve had so much positive feedback around council dealing with the issue. It’s investing in our future, because a home is the number one basic thing in your life,” she said.

“I think the irony is that places like the Bega Valley are promoted as a solution to the issue, because moving to the bush is cheaper, but it’s no longer the case.”

Mayor Kristy McBain said more flexible planning regulations must be created to help deal with the issue.

“I’m very much focused on council looking into planning regulations, to see whether we can find solutions for more dwellings on a block, or an inter-generational model,” she said.

Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly said “the Australian dream of owning a home is becoming increasingly out of reach”.

He said on a federal level the issue should be dealt with by focusing on “both demand and supply issues, including reforming negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount”.

Although the definition does vary, according to the state government, housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30 per cent of gross household income.

“Because of the budget situation, we don’t have enough resources to deal with it, but we have the land,” Cr Griff said.

“Currently we don’t have a staff member who has the issue in their brief, which is an issue.

“I am happy if we make small steps, as long as there’s concrete progress.”

Sapphire Coast Social Justice Advocate Ross Williams said the day was “progressive”, and a “pretty good step towards solving the issue”.