Affordable housing

Shelter for all

Inner West Council believes that affordable housing is a basic need and an essential element of an inclusive and sustainable city.

Housing is considered to be ‘affordable’ when households who rent or have mortgage repayments are able to meet these costs and still have sufficient income to pay for other basic needs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. Lower income households paying more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage payments are considered to be in housing stress.

One aspect of the affordable housing crisis involves the displacement of key workers employed in essential and emergency service jobs. The displacement of key workers due to high rents and property values has an adverse impact both on economic development and social diversity within local communities, especially in the Inner West. 

Inner West Affordable Housing Policy

The Affordable Housing Policy was adopted at Council’s Ordinary Meeting on 28 March 2017.

View the documents comprising the Affordable Housing Policy here:

  1. Affordable Housing Policy (PDF 698.8KB)
  2. Best Practice in Value Capture (PDF 837.6KB)
  3. Background Paper (PDF 831.4KB)
  4. Background Paper - Appendix A: Socio-Economic Change Over Time (PDF 5MB)

Affordable Rental Housing Program

Council’s Affordable Rental Housing Program (ARHP) is a 'key worker' program that provides housing assistance to lower income workers employed in essential industries and emergency services in the Inner West local government area.

Council's Affordable Housing Policy states: 

  • Affordable rental housing acquired by Council will be managed by a registered Community Housing Provider; and
  • Council will ensure the proper management of its affordable housing assets through entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other legal agreement with a registered Community Housing Provider (CHP).

As of 1 November 2019, Council owned 19 affordable housing dwellings located in Lewisham, Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill and Marrickville ranging in size from studio apartments to 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom units. Council has appointed Link Housing, a Registered Tier 1 Community Housing Provider, to manage its affordable housing portfolio.

Ownership of affordable rental housing

One way local governments can increase the supply of affordable housing is through their management of the planning system, the two most common approaches being inclusionary zoning and voluntary planning agreements (VPAs). To date, Council has acquired its affordable housing dwellings through VPAs. In the future, Council is planning to use inclusionary zoning in the form of an Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme under State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 – Affordable Housing (Revised Schemes) (SEPP 70) to increase its affordable housing provision.

Objectives and management guidelines

Council’s ARHP is one of a number of initiatives being implemented by Council to encourage the supply of housing that is affordable for low to moderate income households.   

As a 'key worker' program, the ARHP aims to assist local employees whose incomes exceed the eligibility criteria for public housing but are unable to rent locally without succumbing to housing stress. In this sense, the AHCS is about complementing, not duplicating the role of Housing NSW (the public housing authority that provides social housing) whose priority it is to assist households with the greatest needs.

The ARHP also aims to:

  • Assist 'key workers' on low to moderate incomes for a period of three years;
  • Ensure the full cost of the program, including day-to-day property and cyclical maintenance, tenancy management, administration fees and major upgrading works are fully covered by rent revenue collected by the Housing Manager; and
  • Return any surplus income generated by the Program to Council’s separate affordable housing account for future maintenance and upgrading, as well as the supply of affordable rental housing in the local government area (LGA).

Annexure C to Council’s Management Agreement with Link Housing entitled Affordable Rental Housing Program and Procedures provides guidelines for the ongoing management of affordable housing units owned by Council.

Eligibility criteria

Recipients of Council’s affordable rental housing will be required to meet the income criteria as set by the Australian Government's National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), employment criteria and additional criteria as set out in Council's Affordable Rental Housing Program and Procedures.

Income Criteria           

Income thresholds for 2019/20 were set at $51,398 to $122,211 per annum, depending on household composition ranging from a household comprising one adult through to a household comprising a couple with three children. The income thresholds are reviewed annually by the Australian Government in accordance with the NRAS tenant income index.

Additional Criteria

To be eligible for Council's Affordable Rental Housing Program, a tenant must meet the following criteria:

  • Does not own assets or property which could reasonably be used to meet their housing needs;
  • Is an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
  • Must not already be living in subsidised housing (Housing NSW or Community Housing managed accommodation); and
  • Be working in the Inner West Council LGA and permanently employed in one of the employment sectors listed below in the Inner West Council or neighbouring region.

Employment Sectors

  • Health Services (including support and ancillary staff);
  • Childcare;
  • Primary or Secondary Education (including support and ancillary staff);
  • Emergency Services (including support and ancillary staff);
  • Transport;
  • Inner West Council employees;
  • Retail;
  • Labourers;
  • Manufacturing; or
  • Hospitality.

An application form and additional information can be obtained from Link Housing on (02) 9412 5111.

Boarding houses

The Inner West Council LGA has one of the highest concentrations of boarding houses in the Sydney metropolitan region. Given the decline in housing affordability, traditional boarding houses can be a source of affordable accommodation for households on low incomes.

Inner West Council supports local services that assist boarding house residents deal with such issues as security of tenure, rental increases and the quality of boarding house amenities.

In addition, Council monitors boarding house developments and participates in Boarding House Roundtable meetings convened by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. Refer to Newtown Neighbourhood Centre's Boarding House Outreach Service.

For more information on boarding houses in the Inner West Council local government area, refer to Council's Submission to the NSW Government's Review of the Boarding Houses Act 2012, 8 October 2019.


Homelessness is a significant and growing issue in the Inner West community.  Research indicates that a major contributing factor leading to the growth in homelessness is the lack of affordable and appropriate housing linked to support services where needed.

In particular, research released by Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) shows that during the last few years there has been a disproportionate increase in the number of families who are homeless caused by domestic and family violence, poverty, and a lack of affordable and suitable accommodation. Refer to Valentine, K., Blunden, H., Zufferey, C., Spinney, A., Zirakbash, F. (2020) Supporting families effectively through the homelessness services system, AHURI Final Report No. 330, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne.

Also refer to the 'heat maps' on the Everybody's Home website that show how many people are homeless and how much social housing is needed in Federal electorates near you.

Common Ground Sydney

Utilising the 'common ground' model which originated in New York, the Sydney-based model adopts the 'street to home' approach of providing stable, permanent housing for the chronically homeless.

The model is based upon the principle of satisfying housing need as the vital first step towards a satisfying and balanced life for people affected by homelessness. It provides on-site support designed to help tenants maintain their housing, address health issues, and pursue education and employment.

More information on this project located in Camperdown Sydney can be accessed here.

Finland's Housing First model

The need for an adequate supply of affordable, secure housing to tackle homelessness has been well demonstrated by Finland's Housing First model. This model was approved in 2007 as a means of assisting the most vulnerable homeless people. Permanent housing based on a normal lease was seen as a fundamental solution for each homeless person. Individually tailored support services, increasing the supply of affordable rental housing and preventive measures were also part of the approach.

Since its launch in 2008, Finland's Housing First program has created 3,500 new dwellings to accommodate the homeless. As a result, the number of long-term homeless people in Finland has fallen by more than 35% while rough sleeping has been all but eradicated in Helsinki, where only one 50-bed night shelter remains. More information on Finland's Housing First model can be found here and here.

Refer to Council's Homelessness webpage for information on local responses to assist homeless people.

Emergency accommodation

  • Housing NSW
    1800 152 152
    A single, state-wide telephone service for homelessness enquiries in NSW providing assistance to people who are homeless or at risk of being homelessness by offering access to specialised support and accommodation services.
  • Youth Emergency Accommodation Line
    1800 424 830
    Provides a simple way for young people (under 18) to find a safe place to sleep for the night. YEAL is run by Yfoundations, a peak body that seeks to end youth homelessness and aims to represent the needs of young people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
  • Domestic Violence Line
    Call the Department of Communities & Justice Domestic Violence Line 1800 656 463 (open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day) or access the Department's website here.

Additional information

Rental accommodation

Community housing providers

Community housing providers in the Inner West Council area that provide affordable rental housing to people on low to moderate incomes or with special needs

Housing & Affordability Advisory Committee

The Housing & Affordability Advisory Committee (HAAC) is one of Council's local democracy groups. Advisory committees aim to support Council implement its Community Strategic Plan - Our Inner West 2036 through initiatives outlined in Council’s Delivery Program and actions outlined in Council’s annual Operational Plan and Budget.

The scope of HAAC's activities includes monitoring the implementation of Council’s Affordable Housing Policy and other relevant policies and plans related to affordable housing for very low, low and moderate income households, including essential workers, boarding house residents, homeless people and others experiencing housing stress.

Further information on HAAC can be accessed here.

Other links

  • Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) 
    A consortium of research centre funded by the Australian State and Commonwealth governments, as well as by member universities.
  • Shelter NSW
    Advocates for the interests of people disadvantaged in housing markets and builds the capacity of non profit organisations to provide housing.
  • Centre for Affordable Housing
    A business unit of Housing NSW, which works with State and local government, non-profit organisations, and private companies to generate creative responses to declining housing affordability. Also, a source of housing data.
  • NSW Homelessness Action Plan 
    Contains a broad range of actions that focus on specific target groups that are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness. The Plan is structured under the following three areas: (1) preventing homelessness; (2) responding effectively to homelessness; and (3) breaking the cycle.

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Page last updated: 21 Oct 2021