A community housing provider has called on Wollongong City Council to act urgently to help address social and affordable housing.
A new Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute study by RMIT and UNSW researchers said that in the Illawarra there was a shortfall of 5000 social housing properties as of 2017, with 6900 new homes needed by 2036 to meet demand.
This follows Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones last week saying that Wollongong City Council is “sitting on” $9.2 million funding, provided by the former Federal Labor Government in 2013.
Mr Jones said the money provided to council was part of $13.9 million from the Building Better Regional Cities Program, and was to be set aside to help low-and-moderate income earners to buy a home in West Dapto.
Now, community housing provider the Housing Trust say the new housing study is proof the council needs to act urgently and commit to investing the funding for social and affordable housing.
The Housing Trust is also calling on council to release its draft housing policy and “engage in meaningful discussions with local representatives in order to fast track the provision of affordable rental housing stock”.
“People on very low incomes are struggling to find affordable rental accommodation within the Illawarra, and the only way to improve the situation is to recognise the importance of housing as critical infrastructure within the community and to invest in social housing properties,” Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said.
“According to the study, capital grants to community housing providers through access to land or capital funding is one of the most cost-effective ways to ease housing stress.
“Wollongong City Council has money to invest in creating more affordable rental housing and we urge them to use it wisely.
“We ask them to release their draft housing policy and let us work together to ease the shortage in affordable rental housing in the Illawarra.”
Last week, a Wollongong council spokesperson said the funds now being held by council have grown to more than $10.4 million, a $1.2 million increase on the original funding grant.
On Monday, a council spokesperson said “while affordable housing isn’t an issue restricted to our city, our focus has been on developing a strategy that best meets the needs of our community”.
“There will be a report to council on how funds from the former West Dapto Deposit Assistance program might best be utilised in December. Council’s paper on future housing options, including affordable housing, is expected to be presented to council by mid-2019.”