11 November 2021

Housing affordability in Bega Valley at 'crisis point', council launches new strategy

| Albert McKnight
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Aerial view of Bega.

Bega Valley Shire Council is trying to improve affordable housing in the region. Photo: Supplied.

A new draft report, released as house prices continue to rocket upwards, sheds light on the extent of the affordable housing crisis in the Bega Valley.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s draft Affordable Housing Strategy says 19 per cent of homes in the shire are used as weekenders, short-term letting or holiday accommodation – more than double the rate of regional NSW at nine per cent.

Only 19 per cent of occupied homes are privately rented, compared with 27 per cent for NSW, and only three per cent are rented as social housing.

Both private rentals and social housing has declined over the 10 years to 2016.

Across the shire, median household incomes are much lower than average and are particularly low within and around Eden and Wallaga Lake.

The median rent for a three-bedroom home is $380 a week, which is affordable for only 47 per cent of those on moderate incomes.

The draft report says it is important to note that only 26 per cent of local housing had two or less bedrooms compared with 64 per cent who were lone person and couple-only households in 2016, so there was a “growing mismatch” between housing supply and housing need that, without intervention, was likely to intensify over time.

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It found there was a need for almost 2500 affordable dwellings by 2036, with 67 per cent for renters and the rest for purchasers. At least 75 per cent of this need is unlikely to be met through the market.

“Availability of housing for people on low, very low and moderate incomes in the shire is at a crisis point; profoundly impacting on people across the housing continuum,” Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said.

Long-time advocate for affordable housing, The Greens’ Councillor Cathy Griff said the issue had not traditionally been included in the responsibilities of local government. That it was now was a reflection of how desperate the situation had become.

“It’s not an abstract crisis. Everyone knows someone experiencing housing stress,” she said.

“For homeless people it’s dire, there just is no rental accommodation.

“It’s worse for people on low incomes, but it goes through to professionals who have been offered jobs in the Bega Valley but can’t take them because there isn’t accommodation.”

Council recently resolved to enter into an agreement with Southern Cross Housing and the Department of Communities and Justice to develop more community housing in the shire.

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“We’ll be investing the proceeds from the sale of Narira Village Complex in Cobargo in this partnership, as well as ensuring the Narira Village Complex in Cobargo is retained as community housing into the future,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

Cr Griff said “multiple tactics” were needed to tackle the crisis and council could look at land allocation, zoning, planning and partnerships.

Council is seeking community feedback on its draft strategy, which proposes measures to support an increase in the diversity of housing stock to meet the needs of people who live and work in the shire.

Feedback on the draft strategy through council’s Have Your Say webpage will be accepted up to 6 February 2022.

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Margaret OCarroll9:33 am 08 Mar 22

Very hard for women over 55 NOT IN THE WORKFORCE ANY MORE TO FIND RENTALS AT AFORDABLE PRICES IN Bermagui for single women by the time you pay your rent there is not much else left for bills and food if one is on a disability pension

I applaud BVSC for getting involved. Local government has to as you can’t rely on the market or higher levels of government to do what’s best.
I fear it’s too late though as post-COVID Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney refugees fan out into the regions. They will want their piece of property flesh to the detriment of anything or anyone local.

Sorry, one more thing. Housing supply isn’t the issue, it’s only part of the problem. Don’t invite property developers in as you’ll just add fuel to the housing crisis. Look at the capital cities and any places within 200kms. Locals can’t afford to live local and prices are spiraling out of control.

Anthony Mayne6:00 pm 13 Nov 21

Such a significant issue. Opportunity to work with Bega Council here with a regional issue that is impacting many in the community, including the Eurobodalla.

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