Wollongong City Council has gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new way to provide affordable housing for low-and-moderate income earners.
At Monday’s council meeting, councillors will decide how it wants to distribute a $10.4 million Federal Government grant to provide more affordable housing in the city.
In 2013, the council established the West Dapto Home Deposit Scheme to give people money to help them move into a home in West Dapto. The scheme was unsuccessful because of rapidly rising land prices and strict grant guidelines.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said when the council established the scheme, “housing prices went through the roof”.
“Now we have prized the money away from the constraints of the Federal government’s guidelines so it can be properly utilised to provide affordable housing,” he said.
“Housing affordability is a huge issues everywhere. Really, $10.4 million is not a lot of money. This scheme is just a small drop in the ocean.
“The quicker we can get this money distributed, the better,” he said. “The goal is to provide Wollongong residents with adequate shelter.”
Councillors will discuss and decide which option they want the council to roll out under the revised scheme.
Under one option, the scheme would be expanded so low-to-moderate income earners would receive a $100,000 deposit or 20 per cent and could apply for a maximum mortgage loan of $500,000 to live anywhere in Wollongong City.
Residents could purchase a new house or land purchase packages for a dwelling house, dual occupancy, multi-dwelling housing or residential apartment.
Alternatively, funds could be allocated to not-for-profit community housing organisation to help run their projects.
The advantage of this option is that the organisations know local housing needs, have existing governance arrangements and have existing clients and wait lists.
Council could seek expression of interest from organisations with proven expertise of providing housing services.
The projects would need to provide new housing in the region and would be rented to tenants at rates that are affordable to them.
Projects that focus on woman over 50 who are homeless, have matching funds and provide housing for up to three years will have greater weighting.
Whitlam MP Stephen Jones accused Wollongong Council of “sitting on” the $10.4 million funding provided by the former Federal Labor Government in 2013.
He and community organisations believe the best way forward is for the council to adopt option two.