An Illawarra-based community housing provider has urged Wollongong City Council to set an affordable rental housing target of 20 per cent of new dwellings for the local government area.
Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair said that one in five new homes needed to be dedicated to affordable rental housing in order to make inroads into this growing issue.
"We have been facing a housing affordability crisis for many years," she said.
"In real terms there are currently no affordable properties in Wollongong for aged pensioners or families on JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.
"Rental stress also affects many frontline workers in retail, health, education and emergency services.
"Decreasing housing stress has positive individual and community impacts such as improved mental health, family function, school attendance, safety and community participation."
Rental stress occurs when more than 30 per cent of a low-income household's income is spent on rent.
Wollongong City Council's draft Housing and Affordable Housing Options Paper set out a range of strategies to manage the supply and diversity of housing for the city until 2036.
A council spokesperson said feedback for the draft Housing and Affordable Housing Options Paper closed earlier this month, and council is reviewing the submissions provided.
"We thank all those who took time to provide comments and feedback on the draft paper," the spokesperson said.
"At present there is no timeframe for the final strategy."
Ms Adair said the recent announcement that the unemployment rate for the Illawarra was inching towards 10 per cent meant the crisis was set to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Latest government research indicates that there are already close to 10,000 households in rental stress in Wollongong and we are yet to see the full impact of COVID-19," she said.
"It is anticipated that 13,450 to 15,200 new affordable homes will be needed by 2036.
"We are working with all levels of government to develop solutions to the affordability crisis and council has an important role to play."
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