Affordable Housing Campaign
UNITING JOINS THE CONSTELLATION PROJECT
Uniting has joined a new partnership, The Constellation Project which aims to end homelessness in a generation.
The project is a growing network of organisations and individuals collaborating across sectors – including Not For Profits, developers, First Nations representatives and people with lived experience of homelessness and housing stress.
The Constellation Project is committed to working with existing partnerships that have contributed heavily in this area – including the Sydney Alliance, Everybody’s Home and Make Renting Fair (see below), in all of which Uniting is also a partner.
AUSTRALIA'S BIGGEST EVER PUBLIC ASSEMBLY FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
On 14 March 2019, just before the NSW election, almost 2000 citizens stood together at Sydney Town Hall to seek clear commitments from our political leaders on affordable housing, household energy and rental reform. See report. Sydney Alliance, Vinnies NSW and the Everybody’s Home Campaign jointly hosted the Assembly, and a Uniting Church Minister was co-chair.
An affordable, secure home is the right of all - whatever income, whether owning or renting.
That's why we're working with the Uniting Church, the wider community and among political and economic decision-makers for more affordable and secure housing - especially for people on lower incomes. We’re acting with our partners in:
- the Sydney Alliance to improve rental affordability
- the Make Renting Fair campaign to end unfair evictions
- The Constellation Project to end homelessness.
We also support the Everybody's Home campaign for federal reforms, and with the Ageing on the Edge project to get a better deal for older renters.
Note: Uniting Independent Living, a Uniting Church agency, is a provider of some affordable rental accommodation programs. For more information see Uniting website.
The story so far...
2015: Uniting Social Justice Forum held consultations across our Synod - strong agreement that we should campaign for government actiong. Summary of these talks under Resources below.
2016: With the Sydney Alliance, we met with political leaders and MPs, and made submissions to government reviews. We proposed evidence-based actions by state/territory governments towards more secure and affordable housing:
- Develop a comprehensive long-term social and affordable housing plan with targets and timelines - to ensure governments are publicly accountable for promises and progress.
- Legislate for “inclusionary zoning” (“shared value”) in new developments - to set legally enforceable minimum percentages of units for low-to-moderate-income-affordable rental. On best advice, this should be at least 15% of the whole of new developments on private land, and at least 30% on public land.
- End "no grounds" evictions in NSW law, which leave low-income renters unnecessarily vulnerable. We support the campaign to Make Renting Fair.
- Consider other options proposed by experts - including tax reforms to help lower-income renters.
Background on these actions, and why we recommend them, below under About the issue - and more in Resources.
- We co-hosted two public assemblies in Sydney, both with the NSW Housing and Planning Minister. At Eastwood, he faced 400 people including over 100 city-wide community leaders who rallied to support our aims. Then an even bigger audience, 600 in the Sydney CBD, repeated that call - see ABC report.
- We supported a Vinnies petition to NSW Parliament backing these targets. SMH report And we met with MPs and party leaders seeking their support. The Greens supported policies similar to ours; in 2017 the ALP Opposition also adopted supportive policies.
- We made and coordinated submissions to a review by the NSW Government's Greater Sydney Commission - over 80% of submissions supported stronger and clearer targets. And we wrote to local councils across Sydney, asking them to adopt or strengthen affordable rental policies - several did.
- With 100+ supporters we surveyed Western Sydney's marginal Penrith electorate - finding very strong support. Results
- In response to our campaign, the NSW Government adopted its first-ever legislated affordable rental targets for new developments - a small but important first step. See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights. The government committed to building its first affordable units under the policy. SMH report We welcomed these but pointed out that a great many more were needed for any lasting improvement.
- We held community forums in Penrith, Ryde, Hornsby, Parramatta, North Sydney and Canterbury-Bankstown - engaging communities, boosting local council support and initiating state-local government talks.
- In December, in response to our continued campaign, the NSW government gave all local councils access to planning laws allowing them to approve more affordable units. SMH report
- On 14 March, we and our partners held Australia's largest-ever public assembly on affordable and secure housing and household energy - over 2000 people from 200+ organisations packed Sydney Town Hall. We successfully sought and clarified commitments from NSW and federal political leaders. See report
- We joined a new partnership, The Constellation Project working to end homelessness.
Where to from here?
JOIN a local action team: We're developing local teams to meet with their state MPs and seek accountability on their housing and energy commitments.
Watch this site and our Facebook page for activities you can support!
Under TAKE ACTION below, see what you can do right now to help...
Housing is a basic human right - essential to our wellbeing and quality of life, keeping families together, gaining and holding jobs, pursuing education. It should never be a privilege of the rich.
Housing is considered “affordable” for people on below-average incomes if it costs less than 30% of their disposable income. If it’s more, people suffer “housing stress” – unable to afford adequate food, clothing, education and other essentials. In Greater Sydney, many people spend as much as 75% of their income on rent! Here's just one example
The impacts of the housing crisis are felt across the social spectrum, but low-income and vulnerable households suffer most.
See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights.
- There’s a severe shortage of affordable rental properties in or near major cities, especially for people on lower incomes. Over a million people are in housing stress.
- More and more people are renting - rising prices and falling real wages have pushed more first home buyers out of the market. Home ownership is down across all ages, especially low-middle income earners.
- A decline in “social” (public) housing has led to lengthy waiting periods - up to ten years in some areas.
- Homelessness is increasing - including a growing proportion of older women, children and young people.
- Many renters face unfair "no grounds" evictions after their leases end - often victimised after raising legitimate health and maintenance issues.
- All this affects not just renters but their families, extended families, workplaces, and whole communities - and strains transport, welfare and infrastructure to the cost of all, including governments.
Sydney's housing has been rated the second LEAST affordable in the world, after only Hong Kong. It's estimated Sydney needs to build at least 12,000 social and affordable homes a year to even stop the crisis getting worse.
Simply building more houses, with no affordability targets included, has not worked - supply has increased but prices have continued to rise.
The NSW Government in 2018 committed for the first time to legislated city-wide targets for affordable units in new developments - but the targets are low and weak. The government also rejected a proposal to end unfair "no grounds" evictions.
To make a lasting improvement in housing affordability, NSW must:
- build at least 12,000 social and affordable homes a year for the next decade,
- strengthen affordability targets, and
- end unfair evictions.
Our campaign with the Sydney Alliance has already led to the adoption by the NSW Government of Greater Sydney's first legislated targets for affordable units in new developments. Several local councils have adopted or improved affordability targets. The NSW Labor Opposition and Greens are committed to supporting affordability and security policies very close to our own.
- Affordability targets need to be strengthened and extended - applied across all Sydney councils. This needs active cooperation between NSW and local government.
- The state government also needs to end to unfair 'no grounds' evictions.
- The government also needs to invest much more in building new social housing.
We now need to maintain our call for state and local action.
CURRENT ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE PART IN:
- NSW: Seek accountability from your NSW MP! Personal contact with your local MP can help turn words into real action to help people. Join with others of like mind to express your concerns about the lack of secure affordable rental in your electorate, ask them to strengthen and extend enforceable targets for affordable units in new developments, and to support ending unfair "no grounds" evictions. Click here to JOIN a local action team
- Local: Watch here and on our Facebook page for news of community forums and other actions in your local area - come along, ask questions and help make sure local councils, state and federal MPs give our community what it wants and needs.
- To help improve security for renters, you can sign a statement and email your local MP to urge them to Make Renting Fair.
- Support federal reforms to give renters a better deal at the Everybody's Home campaign.
News reports and releases
30/9/19: 170,000 Aussie homes in rental stress Pro Bono Australia
8/9/19: Soaring housing costs driving inequality: report Sydney Morning Herald
17/5/19: The affordable housing crisis in Australia Architecture & Design
14/3/19: Sydney faces affordable shortfall on eve of Town Hall assembly Sydney Morning Herald "Domain"
27/2/19: Labor vows to abolish no-grounds evictions Sydney Morning Herald
20/2/19: Homelessness best tackled by reducing unaffordability Sydney Alliance media release
1/12/18: More affordable units to come after government removes barrier Sydney Morning Herald
4/11/18: Renters now in the majority in over 40% of Sydney: report Sydney Morning Herald
31/7/18: Governments cautioned on affordability crisis Sydney Alliance media release
17/7/18: Plans for first set of 11,000 units to go near Sydney Metro stations Sydney Morning Herald
21/5/18: No grounds evictions to remain after review of tenancy laws Sydney Morning Herald
22/3/18: Affordable rental targets adopted citywide SJF report in Synod's Insights
19/3/18: Penrith voters strongly support affordable rental targets Sydney Alliance media release
4/3/18: NSW Government's City Deal neglects affordable housing Sydney Alliance media release
29/1/18: How governments can ensure more affordable housing Fifth Estate expert commentary
14/12/17: Affordable housing policy extended to five new Sydney councils Sydney Morning Herald
9/11/17: NSW government commitment welcome - now we need targets Sydney Alliance media release
2/8/17: Calls for higher affordable housing targets as more people on cusp of poverty Sydney Morning Herald "Domain"
8/6/17: Affordable housing assembly sends strong message to Minister South Sydney Herald
5/5/17: Sydney Alliance members rally around affordable housing Insights magazine
10/3/17: Housing affordability - time for NSW to turn words into action South Sydney Herald
23/1/17: Housing affordability: experts urge Gladys Berejiklian to act Sydney Morning Herald
27/7/16: NSW needs inclusionary zoning, says former Premier Sydney Morning Herald
22/6/16: Inclusionary zoning no.1 way of improving Sydney: expert Sydney Morning Herald
For further background information go to the resources page.