A Minute with Magnus…

A Minute with Magnus…

Happy new financial year! How are you and your organisation feeling about the future, particularly in regard to housing? I admit to feeling a little muddled and mixed up about the future. There are some great initiatives commenced by our State Government in pursuing their “Future Directions” program for social housing; Communities Plus is set to deliver new and rebuilt social housing (much needed as the average age of social housing approaches 50 years) along with considerable private market housing (which will pay for the rest) and a sprinkling of affordable housing. The Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) is in the final stages prior to announcing the winning bidders for delivery of 3,000 new mostly social housing units. Despite this great news I cannot help but wonder if the overall problem will still just get much worse, as these programs will deliver only 9,500 new units of social and affordable housing over the next ten years. A very modest increase that will do little do reduce the waiting lists and the housing stress experienced in our communities. However, it is a bold start and we applaud the government for having successfully turned the public housing ship from an ever increasing decline in stock to now at least a small increase. One interesting development for the sector is the emergence of contracts that will be measuring not just housing provision but social outcomes. We will discuss this a lot more in the future.

What else needs to be done? There are many things that could and even should be done and no one thing will solve all the issues. It would be wonderful for the federal government to become involved in proactive policies too (click here to read our latest Federal submission). A missing plank of housing has rapidly become housing for key workers, particularly those who earn a moderate wage and are being priced out of being able to live anywhere near the key places of employment. This is bad not just for them and their families, who live in housing stress, but also begins to strangle businesses and institutions as they struggle to retain workers within their communities. One key task that we have become involved in asking our State Government to implement is that of Value Sharing, otherwise known as Inclusionary Zoning; a mandated minimum percentage of affordable housing that MUST be included in every large development. Churches Housing has engaged with other like-minded church groups, community organisations and trade unions in campaigning for Value Sharing. What we are asking for is that the incredible value uplifts, often in the millions of dollars, that are seen through zoning uplifts on new and proposed developments, are shared not just between developer, business and government but also shared with the community by including a minimum percentage of affordable housing in these developments. This will see affordable housing built all across Sydney, rather than just further and further out west. This policy has seen other world cities struggling with the same issue of housing affordability mandate that up to 30% of new developments must be set aside for affordable housing. Our own city of Adelaide has had a 15% inclusionary zoning policy in place for a decade. I recommend a recent article by former Premier Nick Greiner published in the Sydney Morning Herald which discusses this ask. If you would like to become involved we encourage you to speak out, especially to your local MPs. If you would like some resources in order to support such a meeting then please do not hesitate to ask me.

Regards,

Magnus Linder
Executive Officer