28 October 2022

Mayor pleads with owners of second homes to help ease Bega Valley's housing crisis

| Albert McKnight
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Aerial view of Bega.

The mayor of Bega Valley Shire Council has made an impassioned plea to owners of second homes. Photo: File.

The mayor of the Bega Valley Shire has made an impassioned plea to the owners of multiple homes, asking them for help in easing the region’s housing crisis.

Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick has written to non-resident ratepayers in the shire, asking the owners of secondary or investment properties to consider entering the long-term rental market.

Last year, housing in the shire was reported as being at ‘crisis point’. Council’s draft Affordable Housing Strategy stated that 19 per cent of homes were used as short-term accommodation, only 19 per cent of occupied homes were privately rented, and only three per cent were rented as social housing.

In Mr Fitzpatrick’s letter, he said the Bega Valley was one of the best places in Australia for people to visit in the holidays, but on the flipside, there were many vacant properties throughout the year along with a growing homelessness problem.

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“Many of the people unable to find a place to call home have a steady job and income, but increasingly this is not enough to secure a rental property,” he said.

“Put simply, there are not enough houses to rent for the people who live and work here and who contribute to our society and economy.”

He said while families had resorted to sleeping in cars, at temporary accommodation and on friends’ couches, for most of the year there was “an abundance” of vacant properties across the shire.

“This impacts just about everyone in the Bega Valley because business owners and community service operators are unable to fill vacancies, which affects everything from your morning coffee to the provision of vital health services,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“Writing to property owners for short-term assistance reaffirms our position that a statewide housing crisis cannot be addressed in isolation – it needs collaboration from all tiers of government as well as the business and private sectors.

“Having lost 467 homes during the Black Summer bushfires and with many potential homes purchased as secondary accommodation during the COVID-19 lockdowns, we are facing a significant crisis for the people who live and work in the shire.”

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Council says if you are interested in placing your property on the rental market, then contact a local real estate agent to discuss your requirements.

If you are interested in working with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) to accommodate social housing tenants, then contact the DCJ.

In early 2022, council flagged one move that could ease the housing pressure could be allowing for more residential housing in town centres.

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