Sydney housing system advocates have called on the Minns government to invest in more social and affordable housing on Sept. 7, amidst the government calling 2023 a housing crisis for Sydneysiders.
Community Housing Industry Association New South Wales (CHIA NSW) said the Minns government needed the courage to further invest in social and affordable housing after a report revealed the housing crisis costs the Sydney economy $10 billion annually.
The Committee for Sydney released the report titled ‘Chronically Unaffordable Housing’ on Sept. 7. In the report, CHIA said the hefty price tag dragged Sydney down, threatening its competitiveness and stance as a fair and equitable city. More social housing was also needed to cater for affordability, according to the report.
CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi said the report showed Sydney’s housing crisis had worsened over the last decade on every measure.
“And it’s no surprise when there’s been chronic neglect by successive state governments in social and affordable housing,” he said.
“56,000 families and individuals on the social housing waitlist will be watching to see if the State Government is willing to take the steps needed to give them a secure, long-term home this State Budget.
“We know this is hurting families across NSW as they’re forced to go without essentials, and now we can see it’s hurting the economy too.”
The report confirmed the state’s economy was under pressure as Sydney met the critical metrics for chronic unaffordability. It noted Sydney’s median property price is over 13.3 times the median income, up from 8.3 a decade ago. 35.3 percent of Sydney renter households experience rental stress, and Sydney was ranked second in the least affordable primary housing market after Hong Kong.
Mr. Degotardi said investing in social and affordable housing would equate to “enormous positive impacts on families and communities” and “benefit our economy, as it unlocks the opportunity for more people to participate in the critical jobs that Sydney needs the most.”
However, he said with so many renters in housing stress, the need for assistance will increase and “it’s time for bold responses from the Minns Government.”
Meanwhile, the NSW government plans to transform underutilised government land to give way to social and affordable housing.
NSW Government Unlocks Additional Housing Supply
On Aug. 29, the NSW government announced it would transform Bega’s former TAFE site into a new 97-dwelling diverse housing project, with 30 percent of the homes serving much-needed social and affordable housing.
Subject to planning approval, NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) would redevelop the NSW Government-owned land on Barrack Street. LAHC said the project would create a modern, diverse community close to essential amenities and deliver new infrastructure, including roads and footpaths.
The Committee for Sydney report was on board with building housing close to amenities and called for increased housing with robust transport connectivity and critical community infrastructure like open space, schools, child care, shops and services.
Committee for Sydney Chief Executive Eamon Waterford said the social and affordable housing was critical to the state’s essential workers.
“If Sydney can’t be a city where teachers, nurses, cleaners and hospitality workers can afford to live, the reality is we will hollow this city out, and it won’t function very well,” Mr Waterford said
“We’ve got to build many houses, more than we’ve ever built in this city in any year but every single year for the foreseeable future.
“We’re having a significant economic burden from not solving the housing crisis.”
TAFE and Tertiary Education Deputy Premier Prue Car said shared government responsibility tackles the housing crisis.
“We will continue to identify government-owned land, including former TAFE sites, that help meet that demand. It is an opportunity to transform these sites into crucial housing,” Ms. Car said.
It comes after the Albanese government delivered a boost to NSW states and territories.
NSW Social Housing Push
In June 2023, the Albanese government delivered over $610 million to NSW states and territories as part of the $2 billion Social Housing Fund Accelerator payment to boost social housing stock immediately.
The funding would create thousands of homes for Australians on social housing waiting lists. It would increase the housing supply sooner, with all financing committed by states and territories within two years, ending June 30 2025.
The Albanese Labor government said a secured home would give more Australians the foundation for a better future, and states and territories have flexibility in how they permanently boost social housing stock, including through new builds, expanding existing programs, renovating or refurbishing existing but currently uninhabitable housing stock.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australians want practical solutions, and “we’ll work with the Minns Government to get on with the job of delivering more social housing.”
“This is real dollars, driving real change and building more homes for Australians,” Mr. Albanese said.
The report also said the change could only be addressed after a while and would require continuous investment, innovation, iteration and coordination over the next decade.