Affordable Housing Campaign
An affordable, secure home is the right of everyone - whatever their income, including people who rent.
That's why we're engaging support in the Uniting Church, in the wider community and among political and economic decision-makers, for better affordable and secure rental housing.
We’re working with our partners in the Sydney Alliance and Churches Housing on rental affordability, especially for people on lower incomes, and with the Make Renting Fair campaign to end unfair evictions.
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, offers some affordable rental accommodation programs. For more information see Uniting website.
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 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-to-moderate-income-affordable rental.
- End "no grounds" evictions in NSW law, 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 across Sydney rallied to urge the NSW Planning and Housing Minister to support stronger targets for affordable rentals in new developments. In July, an even bigger audience of 600 people repeated this call to the government 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 MPs and major party leaders to call for affordable targets of at least 15% private and 30% public land developments. The Greens already supported policies similar to ours; the ALP Opposition adopted supportive policies in 2017. We also made submissions to a review by the NSW Government's Greater Sydney Commission. Over 80% of public submissions on affordable housing - including by many councils - agreed that stronger and enforceable targets for affordable units are realistic and necessary. We also wrote to local councils across Sydney, asking them to adopt or strengthen their affordable rental quotas - several did so.
2018: In March, more than a hundred supporters hit the streets of Western Sydney's Penrith electorate to conduct a community survey on affordable housing - results under In the News below.
At the same time, the NSW Government announced its first-ever commitment to city-wide affordable rental targets in new developments. These targets, though small and weakly-worded, are an important step. See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights. . While maintaining our campaign for the NSW government to extend and stengthen these targets, and to end unfair evictions, we're also shifting focus towards what local councils can do to further these aims.
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 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.
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 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.
- The NSW Government has now committed for the first time to city-wide targets for affordable units in new developments - but the targets are low and the wording weak. We must do more to increase and strengthen these targets, at state and local government levels.
After a long campaign by us with our Sydney Alliance partners, and a review by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in 2016-17 to which we made determined input, the NSW Government announced on 18/3/18 the adoption of Sydney's first citywide targets for affordable units in new developments. There's more still to be done - to strengthen these targets, and also to win an end to unfair 'no grounds' evictions. See our 22/3/18 report for Synod's Insights.
Several local councils have adopted or improved affordability targets, the NSW Labor Opposition and Greens are committed to supporting close to our affordability and security policies.
We now need to keep up the pressure at state and local level.
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 call, 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 end unfair "no grounds" evictions as Victoria has done.
Local: Watch for news of actions in your local area, to shift the thinking of local councils.
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
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.