Speaking at a briefing for a competition to find new models of adding affordable housing to the market, lord mayor Clover Moore has stressed the need for affordable property to fix the “disgrace” of the current housing situation in Sydney.
Housing affordability is an issue in Sydney, and it is one that has been branded by Cr Moore as “a really serious issue”.
Speaking at the start of the Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge briefing, Cr Moore said the majority of new housing in the local government area is being built by developers and is expensive, with less than 1 per cent of housing built over the last eight years being classified as affordable.
“The state government’s approach to reducing prices by boosting supply, we know simply hasn’t worked,” she said.
In order to fix this, she said that something must be done, and through the challenge, she said she intends to make housing more affordable and diverse.
“We want Sydney to be a diverse city, not only in terms of our nationalities, but in the people who live here, who do essential jobs, like nurses, teaches, farm and council workers,” Cr Moore said.
“We don’t think they should have to then travel to Gosford or Central Coast after doing a 12-hour stint at King’s Cross police station for example, and we know people need to get to St Vincent’s hospital pretty quickly in an emergency as well.”
“These are really important issues cities around the world are dealing with, but we seem to have a really serious problem here in Sydney.”
By addressing these issues, Cr Moore also said that this would create housing closer to places of work, which in turn would tackle congestion.
Currently, under the Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy, which was set in 2008, goals were set to have 7.5 per cent of social/public housing and 7.5 per cent of affordable and worker housing, yet there is currently just 1 per cent of worker housing, to which Cr Moore said was “a disgrace”.
The City of Sydney council has also been able to create 835 affordable housing dwellings through levies collected from developers in Pyrmont, Ultimo and Green Square, and has been able to widen the area the levies target due to the rules allowing them to widen their net.
“It’s only very recently that that has happened, and we’ve lobbied for years to be able to extend that levy, and we know that if we had been able to during this time of the housing booms, we would have thousands more affordable housing units in our city, but that’s not the case,” Cr Moore said.
Further, the local council has been able to sell land to affordable housing providers at discounted rates, but Cr Moore said they are falling short of their targets, and the state government has not been helpful in this matter.
“We have done everything we can here at the city, but we don’t pull the levers on housing, the other levels do, the other levels of government.”
She cited the government’s Waterloo proposal, which has a proposed 6,800 apartments and 28 social housing units.
“Because we’re really concerned about the built form, because we’re very concerned about not providing enough housing, that we need worker housing and social housing, we’ve done an alternative scheme,” she said.
“The built form is much better but also we want to increase the affordable housing, worker housing to 20 per cent, we want to increase the social housing to 50 per cent and only have 30 per cent private housing.
“Currently the government wants to have 65 per cent private housing and this is on public land, on scarce, inner-city public land.”
In order to create housing that does not end up like the Waterloo situation, Cr Moore said the Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge would be of help.
“We want to increase the diversity of our housing in terms of tenure, of delivery and of design in order to support a diverse and inclusive community,” she said.
“Just three days after we issued the challenge, we already had well over 400 registrations.”
“We hope to find original solutions to the urgent problem of providing more diverse and affordable housing for the people of Sydney, housing that goes beyond the traditional categories of social, public, community and market housing.”