The draft Yass Valley Housing Issues paper has been released and its findings shine a disturbing light on several major housing challenges facing the region in the coming years.
The report details a lack of housing diversity, a shortage of short-term accommodation and the rising cost of housing as central issues in the Yass Valley.
Secure water supply for Yass and Murrumbateman, land restraints, land banking and a shortage of social housing were also identified.
Perhaps the most notable issue is that despite an increase in property supply, demand in the area is growing faster and making it increasingly difficult for first home buyers to enter the market, highlighted by the 23 per cent growth in average entry-level house prices between 2018 and 2020.
Large projects in the Yass Valley are also making short-term accommodation options scarce.
Between 2016 and 2020, the total number of rental listings fell from 271 to 82, and still, there are no boarding housing options.
These issues are increasing in Yass and Murrumbateman, despite the significant levels of growth in the region and relates to a lack of housing diversity as developers are often hesitant to stray from the “rural feel” of the Yass Valley.
The 2016 census revealed only 4.9 per cent of housing in the Yass Valley was considered medium density, well below the 16.8 per cent average across regional NSW.
Despite 56 per cent of the Yass Valley households consisting of one or two people, just 13.4 per cent of those reside in one or two-bedroom dwellings.
The report also identifies the complete lack of crisis accommodation which could mean victims of family violence are not leaving situations out of fear of having nowhere to go.
The report made several recommendations including finalising the overall water strategy, supporting and advocating for social housing properties, encouraging local developers to increase the diversity of housing and putting consideration into using a portion of council-owned residential land being disposed of for social or affordable housing at below-market rates.
NSW South, NSW West & ACT Regional Manager of Housing and Social Services at Anglicare Toni Reay said there was a significant need for social housing options in the region.
“Our Anglicare Housing Service based at the Rae Burgess centre in Yass assisted around 110 people over the past 12 months. We estimate that around 40 per cent of cases are related to domestic violence. Waiting times, even on priority waiting lists, can be months,” said Ms Reay.
“For an individual or family who has experienced the trauma of financial stress, housing risk and in some cases, domestic violence, these sorts of wait times and unstable temporary housing can lead to greater risk of mental health complications and further relationship breakdowns,” she said.
While the paper may have suggested the housing crisis was all doom and gloom, Ms Reay said there was some hope for improvement, particularly on the topic of crisis accommodation.
“We are encouraged by recent government decisions around this issue. Last year, we received a Federal Government Safe Places grant for $5.2 million which will be spent in the Yass and Goulburn regions.”
“The grant will assist people affected by domestic violence through the provision of new emergency accommodation units. More social housing options are certainly required as more families find themselves in housing risk,” she said.
The paper also pushed for a review of minimum lot sizes and residential zoning in Yass.
Licensee at Yass Valley Property, Andrew Curlewis, said a few years ago he worked with a developer building a community title three-bedroom, one-bathroom housing model no others were supplying at that end of the market.
Mr Curlewis said a multitude of factors including the impact of COVID-19, the duplication of the Barton Highway project and ramping up of the wind farm projects are some of the central reasons for the increasing pressures.
With regard to rentals, he estimated that five years ago the median figure in Yass would have been around $350 a week and now estimates it to be more than $500. He said some furnished properties are being rented out for $1000 a week.
Yass Valley Business Chamber President Jack Walker, said prior issues have been “exacerbated” by State Government regulation that has been poorly thought out and adopted without regard for our local government area or proper community consultation.
According to Mr Walker, significant parts of the Yass Valley have gone from not being bushfire prone to being designated as category three bushfire prone. He says this has directly impacted the cost and speed of not just land supply, but houses.
A Yass Valley Council spokesperson said that following the release of the paper, the next step is to commence a review of the Yass Valley Settlement Strategy in 2022 which will include a housing preference survey of residents, real estate agents and social housing providers.
They will also advocate for the redevelopment of properties owned by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation to increase both the quantity and quality of social housing stock in the region.
The draft Yass Valley Housing Issues paper is available on the Yass Valley Council website. The paper is open to submissions until 5 pm on 3 December.