By TILEAH DOBSON
While the nation watches the invasion of Ukraine in horror, multiple issues are still ongoing at home – an unpromising job market, high living costs, not to mention the still ongoing pandemic among them. One of the most serious ongoing crises in New South Wales, however, is the lack of affordable housing.
The City of Sydney Council voted last week to create a Housing for All Committee. The establishment of this committee comes after sustained calls for more affordable housing within the city; a call that has been heeded by the Greens, after being highlighted as a major issue by residents in the recent council elections.
Greens City of Sydney Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said local government had a strong role to play in ameliorating the ongoing issue.
“Affordable housing crisis is the responsibility of all levels of government,” Ellsmore said.
“The City of Sydney already has a number of strong initiatives to support the growth of social housing and a percentage of affordable housing in new developments. However, the city is not currently on track to deliver against its own targets, let alone meet the calls for stronger action from the community,” she said.
“The new affordable housing committee has been established at the highest level of council. The committee will be supported by a working group which will bring in expertise and work with housing advocates, communities and neighbouring councils.
“There was unanimous support from fellow councillors [for this initiative], including for my election as deputy chair of the committee, and to lead the working group.”
The initiative could not come soon enough for many. With prices of essential goods like electricity, gas and petrol rising, Australians are feeling the squeeze more than ever. In terms of the housing market, both buying or renting, many residents are feeling hopeless for the future.
A recent study investigating the impacts of the pandemic on Australians discovered it had impacted the hopes and dreams of many, through the loss of work or education. The study found participants felt powerless due to both the virus itself and actions of the federal and state governments. While attention has been drawn to mental health, other issues, such as housing, have been left in the dust.
Member for Newtown and NSW Greens Spokesperson for Housing. Jenny Leong MP, said the situation made the Housing for All committee all the more important.
“I congratulate the council for establishing this committee and acknowledging the needs of our community when it comes to addressing the housing crisis in our city, which makes it so difficult for many people to pay rent or find housing that they can afford,” Leong said.
“Local councils can play a significant role in addressing the growing housing crisis in their areas – and make up for the failures of the Liberal/National State government who continue to prioritise developers and their profits over people’s homes.”
It’s not just the Greens who are pleased with the new committee, with Labor City of Sydney Councillor Linda Scott also enthusiastic.
“An increase in the provision of affordable housing is central to our City of Sydney’s future, and introducing a governance committee to drive this agenda forward is a welcome step in the right direction,” Scott said.
“With homelessness on the increase post-Covid lockdowns, and the shortage of affordable housing at crisis levels, it’s beyond time for increased City action on affordable housing.”
Tileah Dobson is the news editor and sub-editor of the Sydney Sentinel.