Affordable Housing Campaign
We're engaging support in the Uniting Church, in the wider community and among political and economic decision-makers, for more affordable housing - especially to improve rental affordability and security.
We need your help right now - please take action below!
The story so far...
2015: Uniting Social Justice Forum held "Table Talk" forums across the NSW-ACT Synod of the Uniting Church - gathering experiences of housing stress, and views on what should be done. There was strong agreement that governments need to take action. A summary from these talks is under Resources below.
2016: With our partners in the Sydney Alliance, we began meeting with political leaders and local MPs, and made submissions to government reviews.
Our research pointed to positive steps state/territory governments could take to significantly improve the provision of secure and affordable housing. They could:
- Develop a comprehensive long-term social and affordable housing plan with targets and timelines - to ensure governments are publicly accountable for promises and we can track progress.
- Adopt laws requiring “inclusionary zoning” (or “shared value”) in major new developments. These would set aside legally enforceable minimum percentages of units for low-to-moderate-income-affordable rental - we proposed at least 15% of the whole development when on private land, and at least 30% on government land. See under Take action (below) what you can do now to help this happen!
- Move to end "no cause evictions" in legislation which leave low-income renters unnecessarily vulnerable. We're part of an alliance campaigning for this: Make Renting Fair
- Consider other options put forward by experts - such as a broad-based property tax to replace stamp duty, or a "Vacancy Tax" on long-empty buildings.
Background on these actions, and why we recommend them, can be found under About the issue - and more in Resources below.
2017: In May, almost 400 people including over 100 community leaders from all over Sydney rallied to urge the NSW Planning and Housing Minister to support stronger targets for lower-income-affordable rentals in new developments. In July, an even bigger audience of 600 people repeated this call at a second assembly - as reported by the ABC.
In August we supported a petition of 16,000+ signatures to the NSW Parliament supporting these targets. Sydney Morning Herald "Domain" report
Throughout 2017, we met with leaders of major parties - the major Opposition party, the ALP, adopting policies very close to our own. We also made submissions to draft plans by the NSW Government's Greater Sydney Commission. The large majority of public submissions on affordable housing - including by many councils - agreed with us and our Sydney Alliance partners: stronger and enforceable targets for affordable units should be adopted. And we also wrote to local councils across Sydney, asking them to adopt or strengthen their affordable rental quotas - several did so.
2018: We're pushing ahead with state and local actions to make affordable rental targets a reality! Read on under TAKE ACTION below...
Housing is a basic human right - essential to our wellbeing and quality of life. Without stable housing, it’s difficult to care for your family, gain employment or pursue education or training.
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 are spending 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.
In NSW and ACT:
- There’s a severe shortage of affordable rental properties, especially for those on lower incomes. Over a million people are in housing stress.
- Rising prices have seen first home buyers increasingly squeezed out of the market. Home ownership has declined across all age groups, especially among low and 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 women, children and young people.
- Sydney's housing has recently been rated the second LEAST affordable in the world, after only Hong Kong.
- Simply "building more houses" (with no affordability targets included) has not worked - supply has increased but prices have continued to rise.
Following a review by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in 2016-17, the NSW Government is considering how it will tackle what it admits is a very serious problem.
We've met with political leaders and made detailed presentations to the reviews. We've presented expert evidence that legislated Inclusionary Zoning targets of 15% (on private land) and 30% (on public land) are feasible, viable and have been successfully used in many other cities worldwide - without harm to house prices or supply. We're also pursuing this with local councils - encouraging them to require affordable rental percentages in their property rezoning process.
Thanks to our campaigns, both the ALP Opposition and Greens support targets close to what we seek; the NSW Government has indicated some support for affordable rental measures, but has not yet committed to clear enforceable targets for affordable rental in new developments. Several local councils have adopted or improved affordability targets, and have urged the NSW Government to legislate for consistency.
CURRENT ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE PART IN:
Send the message to your NSW MP! Personal contact with your local MP can make a difference. Some support our call, but others have not yet committed to meaningful action. Express your concerns about the lack of affordable rental, and ask them to support the adopting of meaningful and enforceable Inclusionary Zoning targets for affordable units in new developments. Go to our action email page - it's easy to personalise and send an email to your MP, perhaps seeking a meeting with the MP. You can also send a comment to Premier Berejiklian. Or contact your local council - ask them to strengthen their Inclusionary Zoning policies and also to advocate with the NSW Government for statewide laws.
If you’d rather write a personal "snail mail" letter - good idea! You can download the information below, including sample letter and instructions to maximise your impact. Or you can adapt some of the text from our action email page which urges stronger affordable rental targets. Remember to give some details about how the problem affects your local community.
You can also take action to improve security for renters. With our partners in Make Renting Fair we're campaigning to end the unfair "no grounds eviction" under NSW law. You can sign a statement and email your local MP at the campaign page.
News reports and releases
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
27/10/17: Commission holds firm on housing targets for Sydney councils Sydney Morning Herald
26/10/17: State government undertakes to improve renters' rights in the new year Sydney Morning Herald
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.