Bega Valley Shire Council says it is doing all it can to address the ever-growing housing crisis in regional NSW and has called on the other two tiers of government to step up.
Bega Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the compounding effect of the Black Summer bushfires and the flexibility of remote working was placing extra pressure on an already stretched housing market.
“Too many people in our community are finding it extraordinarily tough to find somewhere to live, and for people hoping to move to our shire to take up job opportunities, their options are extremely limited,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“I’ve heard of locals who can’t find a place to park their caravan, let alone find a house to live in.
“I’ve heard of people not being able to accept a job, because they can’t find somewhere to live.”
Cr Fitzpatrick said council was developing an affordable housing strategy, making changes to zoning to facilitate more housing and assessing a high volume of development applications for new housing, but couldn’t solve the problem on its own.
“We need the Australian and NSW governments to step in,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“We’re calling on the Australian Government to increase funding for social and affordable housing, including expansion of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.
“We’re calling on the NSW Government to identify state-owned land suitable for short-term and long-term housing uses and work with Local Aboriginal Land Councils to support use of Aboriginal land for Aboriginal housing and economic development.”
Cr Fitzpatrick said council would also investigate opportunities to partner with crisis housing providers and seek support from short-term letting platforms to release housing for permanent rental accommodation.
“Having access to a safe and stable home is something many of us take for granted, but every year about 116,000 people in Australia experience homelessness,” he said.
“We need to act, and we need to act now.”
Council has written to the Federal Government Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, and the NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing seeking support, investment and policy changes to help address the critical shortage of affordable housing.