The Illawarra chapter of the Property Council of Australia has identified housing affordability as one of region’s greatest challenges.
It comes after a recent global housing affordability survey ranked Illawarra as severely unaffordable.
Regional manager Jancey Malins said that meant it was a significant issue that affected those experiencing rental housing stress, first home buyers, students and families up sizing or downsizing.
Housing is defined as affordable when it is 30 per cent of household income.
A recent global housing affordability survey by Demographia found the ratio of median household income to median house price is 8.3 in the Illawarra, which means it is less affordable than New York which has a ratio of 5.9.
But it is not just the Illawarra affected.
The Property Council says housing affordability across Australia is at crisis point.
“The primary driver of sky rocketing house prices is a lack of adequate and affordable supply of land and new housing stock to meet demand,” Ms Malins said.
“When the price of land is at an all time high, it is very difficult to provide public or private housing for affordable rental accommodation. It is almost impossible for first home buyers to purchase a free standing house close to our metropolitan areas, and it means that people who might like to down size are holding on to larger homes as smaller newer dwellings are out of reach.”
Ms Malins said the Property Council of Australia was calling for a planning system to support the turbo-charge release of new housing in both greenfield and in-fill developments.
“Increasing the urban density of housing supply across the Illawarra is central to this,” she said.
“This means changes to floor space ratios, height limits and zoning that allows greater densities around urban centres, particularly along the northern corridor.”
The Illawarra Regional Plan recently stated the region needed 35,400 new homes over the next 20 years.
“The Property Council thinks that this is a very conservative estimate,” Ms Malins said.
“However given the current impediments to development we are not likely to even hit this target without some significant change to the status quo. As a community we also need to look at innovative solutions to addressing affordable housing needs. Local Government need to play a key role here by unlocking under-utilized land holdings and partnering with the private sector to deliver new housing products.”
Ms Malins said given the significance of the challenge the response needed to be multi-faceted with action from the entire community – including local and state government, developers and community housing providers.
She said it would also require a change in community perceptions about medium and higher density housing.