A progressive inner west Affordable Housing Policy

Inner West Council now has a pioneering Affordable Housing Policy which sets a city-leading 15 per cent target on large developments, and 30 per cent on government owned land in urban renewal areas.

Council adopted the Affordable Housing Policy at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

“Increasing the stock of affordable rental housing is a Council priority,” said Inner West Council Administrator Richard Pearson.

Council will achieve the ambitious targets by obtaining a fair share of the increase in land values resulting from rezonings and other planning decisions.

“There is substantial evidence of a growing number of local people in housing stress, and a large unmet need for affordable housing which is only going to worsen as the inner west continues to grow and to gentrify. We need to take advantage of this urban renewal to actually help low to moderate income households in our community,” Mr Pearson said.

Council’s policy has been on public exhibition since late last year, and was met with a positive reaction from the inner west community, with almost 80 per cent saying they supported the policy.

“Our residents told us that this was an ‘essential policy for Council’, and that ‘well designed affordable housing and plenty of green space is essential if our community is to thrive’, and I agree,” Mr Pearson said.

“It will mean our community is socially richer and more diverse. We can slow the current Sydney phenomenon of vulnerable groups and workers in essential and community sectors being pushed further and further out. Instead we will be ensuring that people actually have housing opportunity.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Hal Pawson, Professor of Housing Research and Policy and Associate Director of the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW described the Policy as “thoroughly researched” and said Council was “leading the charge” on housing affordability.

“People living in the Inner West value the area’s social diversity [which is being] badly eroded by the private housing market. In representing local sentiment, Council has a duty to use the powers it has to resist this,” Professor Pawson said.

“That’s what the affordable housing policy is all about. This is not an outlandish or particularly radical approach. In London, Paris, New York – our comparator cities overseas – this kind of policy has been standard practice for decades. It’s high time Sydney caught up, and great that Inner West Council is taking the lead in making this happen.”

Wendy Hayhurst, CEO of the NSW Federation of Housing Associations, also spoke at the meeting. “Council has shown real leadership by adopting such a strong and well evidenced policy,” she said.

“This policy will really help the nurses, artists, pensioners, emergency services staff and ordinary working families who make up the inner west community by ensuring all new housing developments have a minimum amount of housing they can afford.

“We hope it encourages other Councils to follow their lead,” Ms Hayhurst said.

Council also endorsed a recommendation to put a notice of motion to the National General Assembly of Local Government in June. The motion will urge the Federal Government to consider measures to improve housing affordability in areas affected by high levels of housing stress, such as in the inner west.

“Whether it’s simply a matter of more supply, or reforming Australia’s negative gearing and capital gains tax – Federal and State Governments need to be acting on housing affordability.

“It’s not good enough to leave all the work to local councils on this issue which our residents have told us is of critical importance to them,” Mr Pearson said.

For an interview with Richard Pearson, Hal Pawson or Wendy Hayhurst, contact the Communication team.


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Page last updated: 01 Aug 2018