Campaigning for everyone's right to an affordable and secure home

An affordable, secure home is the right of all - whatever your income, whether owning or renting.

We're working with the Uniting Church and partners in the wider community to seek from our leaders more affordable and secure housing - especially for people on lower incomes.

We’re acting with partners in:

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.

 

 

Some recent actions

  • Uniting joined The Constellation Project (TCP) - a partnership aiming to end homelessness in a generation. 

  • We took part in Australia's biggest-ever public assembly for affordable and secure housing - packing Sydney Town Hall in March 2019 with almost 2000 people to seek commitments from our political leaders. Read our report.  Sydney Alliance, Vinnies NSW and the Everybody’s Home Campaign jointly hosted the Assembly, and a Uniting Church Minister was co-chair.

 


Working with the diverse community

We’re acting with our partners in:

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.

 

Eastwood, 2017: Anthony Roberts MP, Minister for Planning & Housing, agrees to meet with us

Sydney Town Hall, March 2019: Tracey Burton (Uniting), Rev Jane Fry (Synod) and Rob Floyd (UCA Assembly) urge leaders to "Get this done!" on campaign asks

A story of church, community and powerfully diverse partnerships


2015:
Uniting Social Justice Forum held consultations across our Synod. Strong agreement that we should campaign for governments to create more social and affordable housing. 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. They should:

  1. Adopt a comprehensive long-term social and affordable housing plan with targets and timelines - to hold governments publicly accountable for promises and progress.

  2. Legislate for “inclusionary zoning” (“shared value”) in new developments - legally enforceable minimum percentages of units for low-to-moderate-income-affordable rental. Experts say this should be at least 15% of the whole of new developments on private land, and min. 30% on public land.

  3. End "no grounds" evictions in NSW law, which leave low-income renters unfairly vulnerable. We're part of a campaign to Make Renting Fair.

  4. 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.

2017: 

  • We co-hosted two large public assemblies across Greater Sydney, with NSW Government and Opposition present. See our report on Eastwood assembly 2017  and see ABC report on our Sydney CBD rally 2017

  • We supported a Vinnies petition to NSW Parliament backing these targets. SMH report   We met with MPs and party leaders seeking their support. The Greens were on board; soon the ALP Opposition also adopted supportive policies.

  • We made and coordinated submissions to a review by the NSW Government's Greater Sydney Commission - 80%+ of submissions supported stronger, clearer targets. And we wrote to local councils across Sydney, asking them to adopt or strengthen affordable rental policies - several did.

2018: 

  • With 100+ supporters we surveyed Western Sydney's marginal Penrith electorate - finding very strong support. Results   

  • In response to our campaign, the NSW Government legislated its first-ever 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 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 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

2019: 

  • On 14 March, we and our partners held Australia's largest-ever public assembly on affordable secure housing and household energy - 2000+ people from 200+ organisations packed Sydney Town Hall. We 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...

Sydney Alliance partners including Uniting SJF and congregations take part in Penrith housing survey action, 17/3/18

Housing is a UN-recognised 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 up to 75% of their income on rent! Here's just one example

Impacts of the housing crisis are felt across society, but low-income and vulnerable households suffer most.

See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights.

In NSW:

  • A severe shortage of affordable rental properties around major cities, especially for people on lower incomes, puts over a million people 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-to-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 kept climbing with only short breaks. Falling real incomes means even during a house-price downturn, homes can become less affordable. 

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 actions in your local area.

  • 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

3/8/18:   Housing affordability a key driver of homelessness: rough sleepers report  New Daily

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"

13/7/17:  Housing affordability crisis bonds Sydney community across cultures and religions  ABC News  

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.