Affordable housing at centre of council’s future vision

Randwick City Council is proposing to build over 3,000 social housing and affordable rental dwellings by 2036 as part of its vision for the next two decades.

The housing strategy, a centrepiece of Council’s Vision 2040 sets a minimum target of dedicating 10 per cent of the total proportion of dwellings  to very low to moderate income households, including 7.5 per cent affordable rental housing and 2.5 per cent social housing.

To meet this target, 1,918 social housing dwellings and 1,765 affordable rental dwellings are required, according to the strategy.

“While a 10 per cent affordable housing target … seems modest (especially compared to international affordable housing targets that are in the range of up to 50 per cent) it would at the very minimum be a useful baseline to measure against further loss of low income households in Randwick,” the strategy sasays.

The City has a land area of 37.4 square km and a population of 154,265. The medium weekly household income is $1,916 and there are 738 homeless people.

Government predicts that Randwick City’s population will grow to 180,150 by 2036.

Affordable housing difficult to secure for low income households

As part of its affordable rental housing program, Council has already acquired 30 dwellings in various locations and has worked with a community housing provider, Community Housing Limited, to construct an eight-unit affordable rental housing project on land dedicated by Council.

“Affordable housing is important because a range of housing choices, including affordable rental housing, reduces the need for people to go into social housing and also supports a pathway for people to move out of social housing,” a spokesperson for the council told Government News.

Despite an increase in building approvals across the City, it is losing housing stock that is considered affordable for moderate, low and very low income households and adequate housing arrangements are becoming increasingly difficult to secure for most of the City’s population.

The strategy says this is the result of increasing land and property values and climbing rents, which have resulted in a loss of rental stock at the lower end of the market.

The loss of affordable housing is also impacting on community life, Council says, with people leaving their homes in favour of cheaper housing options.

“An increasing number of professionals and children of aged parents are being priced out of the area further away from places of employment and established families,” the spokesperson said.

“This has the undesirable effect of severing long term links with their support networks, ageing family members and negatively impacting upon community cohesiveness.”

Social housing not meeting demand

The supply of social housing in Randwick City has not increased to respond to the rise in number of people on low and very low incomes, the strategy says.

“In the past 10 years, the number of people living in social housing dwellings has increased by 2.6 per cent while the general population has increased by 18.8 per cent,” it says.

“To meet the demands of moderate, low and very low income people at risk of becoming homeless, Council recognises that it needs to increase the amount of social and affordable housing stock in the LGA,” the strategy says.

Although the provision of social housing is ultimately the responsibility of the state government, Council can still provide assistance through providing affordable rental housing.

“Local Government is best placed to engage with its local community to work together to determine appropriate housing locations, forms and typologies for its local area,” the council spokesperson said.

Boosting local character of the city

The strategy also says Council is preparing draft “local character” areas for community input. Local character areas have a unique identity that make them distinct from other neighbourhoods..

Council is using a thorough methodology to identify these areas and ensure that local character statements will improve outcomes for the community.

“The development of new local character statements to guide future development is a new piece of work for Randwick City,” the council spokesperson said.

“This local character work stems from new direction from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, which means we are one of the first councils undertaking the analysis and developing new local character statements.”

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