Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Greens push for affordable homes

The NSW Greens have introduced a bill into the Legislative Council that would allow councils to require up to 25 per cent of new multi-unit housing developments to be set aside for affordable housing.

The housing would be managed by councils, non-profit housing organisations or the Department of Housing. Rents would be limited to 30 per cent of the tenants' income.

The Greens say that the scheme is "by no means radical", with similar ones operating in Britain, the US, France and Japan. The developers' contribution could be monetary or in the form of housing units, they say.

The Greens' planning spokeswoman, Sylvia Hale said, "The bill is aimed at providing more affordable housing for low- and moderate-income earners. Councils can set their own target [from] 1 per cent to 25 per cent, based on housing needs.

"Recent statistics rate Sydney as the seventh least-affordable city in the world. Where will Sydney be when key workers such as teachers, nurses, police and aged and child-care workers can't afford to live here?" Ms Hale said.

There were already limited schemes operating in NSW. "One success story is the affordable housing run by City West Housing Company in inner Sydney. The Greens' bill removes the obstacles to the expansion of these types of schemes."

Ms Hale said councils are at present hamstrung by the requirement that a scheme be listed by the Minister for Planning in a State Environment Planning Policy. The previous and present planning ministers had not approved any new schemes, and when a council had asked it had been refused, she said.


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