Regional NSW faces a growing housing crisis

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on06 Oct, 2021

RELEASED: October 1

The newly released report  from the NSW Regional Housing Taskforce confirms what many community service organisations based in the country have been saying – COVID-19 has accelerated a trend of people moving out of cities and this has had a severe impact on regional housing.
Tony Davies, CEO of the not-for-profit organisation Social Futures, said he was encouraged that NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes would ‘look forward to receiving the taskforce’s detailed recommendations in October’.
“Regional communities are crying out for help,” Mr Davies said. “We have a rapidly expanding homeless population, we have women and children sleeping in cars, we have regional people receiving no fault evictions because landlords can get higher rents from city refugees.
“We have essential workers like schoolteachers, nurses and police officers struggling to find affordable accommodation in our regions. We hope that the NSW government will act swiftly on the recommendations of the taskforce.”
Mr Davies said Social Futures proposes a number of solutions to relieve housing pressures in regional areas, including:
REFORM TENANCY LAWS: “If the state government reforms tenancy law reforms, the balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords can be re-adjusted and we will see fewer no-fault evictions, leading to long-term tenants losing their homes and ending up on the street,” Mr Davies said.
INVEST IN SOCIAL HOUSING: “Social Futures is also calling for more investment in social housing to take pressure off an over-heated private market. On the Far North Coast we want the state government to commit to building at least 100 social housing properties each year for 10 years,” he said.
CHANGE REGULATIONS FOR COUNCILS: “We also want State Local Government regulations changed so that more tiny homes or mobile homes can be put on private land and rented. Social Futures is now building 12 small-footprint,-loft-style homes in Lismore that are just for one person because there is a severe shortage of smaller housing in the Northern Rivers and even though there are more and more one and two person households in this region – no one is building homes for that market.”
STOP LAND BANKING: “Surplus public land suitable for residential development should be identified and when suitable opened up for housing. We also need to follow Western Australia’s lead and end ‘land banking’ – when privately owned blocks approved for development remain empty for years. You use it or you lose it.”
REDUCE HOLIDAY LETTING: “Rather than rent properties out to long-term local tenants, landlords are instead listing properties on holiday websites like Airbnb. We want a cap on holiday letting in regional coastal towns. The government needs to reduce the days of residential properties can be on Airbnb for holiday
INVEST IN EMERGENCY ACCOMMODATION: “The NSW government needs to spend more on emergency housing support services so these services can help people at-risk of homelessness sooner. If more renters keep their tenancies and say in rented houses there will be fewer homeless people in our towns.”
Media enquiries: Christine Tondorf | Media and Communications Lead 0427 556 892