Affordable Housing Campaign
COMMUNITY FORUMS ON AFFORDABLE AND SECURE HOUSING - coming soon across Sydney! The next will be in Parramatta on the evening of November 7. More info and registration here.
An affordable, secure home is the right of all - whatever income, owning or renting.
That's why we're building support in the Uniting Church, in the wider community and among political and economic decision-makers, for more affordable and secure housing - especially for people on lower incomes.
We’re working with our partners in the Sydney Alliance to improve rental affordability, and with the Make Renting Fair campaign to end unfair evictions. We also support the Everybody's Home campaign for reforms at federal level.
We need your help right now - particularly to secure reforms at state and local levels. Please take action below!
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 consultations across our Synod - gathering experiences of housing stress, and views on what should be done. There was strong agreement that governments must 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 MPs, and made submissions to government reviews. Our research pointed to positive steps state/territory governments could take to significantly improve 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 progress.
- Legislate for “inclusionary zoning” (or “shared value”) in new developments - to set aside legally enforceable minimum percentages of units for low-moderate-income-affordable rental. Based on expert advice, we decided to campaign for enforceable targets for percentages of new developments to be set aside for lower-income-affordable rental: 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 - like 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: We held two public assemblies in Sydney, both attended by the NSW Housing and Planning Minister. At Eastwood, 400 people including over 100 community leaders from across the city rallied to urge the government to support our aims. Then an even bigger audience of 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 to ask them to back the targets. The Greens support policies similar to ours; in 2017 the ALP Opposition responded to our campaign by adopting supportive policies.
We also made and encouraged submissions to a review by the NSW Government's Greater Sydney Commission - over 80% of submissions supported stronger and clearer targets. We also wrote to local councils across Sydney, asking them to adopt or strengthen affordable rental policies - several did.
2018: In March, over a hundred supporters surveyed Western Sydney's marginal Penrith electorate - finding very strong support for our proposals. Results At the same time, the NSW Government agreed to its first-ever commitment to legislated affordable rental targets in new developments. These targets, though limited and vaguely-worded, were an important first step and a direct result of our campaign. See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights.
In July the government committed to building the first of its affordable units under this policy. SMH report We commented that with only 5% of these homes set for affordable rental, only 55 homes a year would be built in this development - though experts say at least 8,000-12,000 new affordable homes a year must be built across Sydney to even stop our city's unaffordability going backwards.
Where to from here?
In 2018-19, we'll maintain our campaign for the NSW government to extend and strengthen the affordability targets, and to end unfair evictions. We're also approaching local councils to adopt and improve affordable housing policies.
COMMUNITY FORUMS: We're holding public forums across Greater Sydney in the leadup to state elections next March. These feature expert and experienced speakers, and local reps from federal, state and/or local government - with a chance for their communities to question them on what they'll do to improve housing affordability and security. We've held forums so far in Penrith and Ryde.
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. 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 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 those on lower incomes. Over a million people are in housing stress.
- Rising prices and falling real wages have seen first home buyers increasingly squeezed out of the market. Home ownership is down across all ages, especially for 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 women, children and young people.
- 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.
Sydney's housing has recently been rated the second LEAST affordable in the world, after only Hong Kong. It's estimated Sydney needs to build at least 8000-12000 affordable homes a year to even stop unaffordability going backwards.
Simply "building more houses" (with no affordability targets included) has not worked - supply has increased but prices have continued to rise.
The NSW Government has now (2018) committed for the first time to city-wide targets for affordable units in new developments - but the targets are low and limited and the wording weak.
We must do more to extend and strengthen these targets, at state and local government levels.
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.
We now need to maintain our call for state and local action.
CURRENT ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE PART IN:
- NSW: Send the message to your NSW MP! Personal contact with your local MP can make a difference. Some support our asks, but others have not yet committed to meaningful action. Express your concerns about the lack of secure affordable rental, ask them to strengthen and extend enforceable targets for affordable units in new developments, and to support ending unfair "no grounds" evictions - as Victoria has done.
- 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
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
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.