Western Sydney Housing Coalition draft western Sydney Affordable Housing Issues Paper June 2013 Introduction

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PowerPlusWaterMarkObject357831064Western Sydney Housing Coalition DRAFT Western Sydney Affordable Housing Issues Paper – June 2013

Western Sydney Housing Coalition

Western Sydney Affordable Housing Issues Paper
June 2013
Affordable housing is a basic requirement of all people and to ensure that households are free of financial stress and burden, and that housing costs should not consume a large portion of household income, it is therefore necessary that the current housing situation in Western Sydney be fully explored in order to address the lack of affordability across the region. This decline in affordable housing has led to what can be described as housing stress, that is, those below 120% of the median household income who are paying more than 30% of household income to meet mortgage repayments.1
Many are affected by the lack of affordable housing across Sydney; this predominantly includes those on a low wage including construction workers, cleaners, hospitality workers, waiters, retail workers, transport workers, community and health workers, etc. It is vital the these key workers are not lost especially as many are choosing to move away from unaffordable areas in search of more affordable accommodation. This particularly applies to Western Sydney, where they are vital for the region to achieve its potential as a driver of Sydney’s ongoing growth.
This paper will therefore explore this issue, assess what is happening and make suggestions about what could happen to address the need identified. It is produced by Western Sydney Housing Coalition (WSHC), which is a coalition of local councils, community organizations and volunteers involved in housing issues in Western Sydney. (Details of the Coalition, including membership, can be found at the end of this paper).
Much of this paper derives from a forum, “More Affordable Housing, Faster!”, sponsored by WSHC in November 2012. Its purpose is to generate ongoing discussion on this issue, and to develop strategies to address it (see Section Two below). It is therefore intended to encourage local groups to participate in this process, and resource the action plan which will follow.
Aims of this issues paper
This issues paper aims to:

  • Identify the current issues related to affordable housing in Western Sydney and the appropriate actions to rectify these

  • Highlight the growing and diverse population of Western Sydney, the impact this is having on current availability and options for housing and how it will affect future accessibility

  • Identify a suitable approach to manage the growing problem of affordable housing in Western Sydney whilst being mindful of the community and its social and economic needs

Recommendations this paper will make include:

  • Promoting better understanding about the need for affordable housing and to overcome community prejudice against these types of development

  • Advocate for provisions in the Affordable Housing SEPP for affordable housing requirements as part of major developments and that councils are consulted about the management of these properties

  • Advocate for provisions in the Affordable Housing SEPP that support social housing development in areas not normally zoned for residential flats. However local councils should be consulted on individual proposed developments

  • Work with partners at all levels of government, the private and community sectors to facilitate the improved provision of affordable housing

  • Encouraging local councils to incorporate affordable housing objectives within their Local Environmental Plans and DCPs

  • Investigate emerging funding opportunities and incentives for the development of affordable housing

  • Advocate and work with local councils and organisations to improve the security of tenure and access to services for boarding house residents and tenants of other low-cost housing

  • Continue to work with boarding house owners/managers and landlords to ensure that they are aware of their rights and obligations related to health, building and fire standards

  • Advocate for and support strategies and services by respective local councils that increase access to employment and training services for low to moderate income households

What is affordable housing?
The term “affordable housing” refers to housing that is appropriate to the needs of a household in terms of size, form and location and within their means to pay for it. Affordable housing is different to (but for assessment reasons, it includes) social housing as it:

  • Is open to a broader range of household incomes

  • Calculates rents differently

  • May have different tenancy terms

  • Is managed by non-government organisations2

Affordability is generally measured by comparing the rent or purchase price of housing with the capacity of that household to pay. A commonly used benchmark of affordability for lower income households is where housing costs are below 30% of gross income. Housing costs therefore must not consume a large quantity of the household income so that the household is lacking in money to address other basic needs and costs.3

The largest group of rental affordable housing available for those in the greater region of Sydney include social housing. This primarily consists of public housing, community housing, crisis accommodation and Aboriginal housing.4

Prevalence of housing stress in Western Sydney
Housing NSW defines housing stress as those who pay more than 30% of their household income in order to meet mortgage repayments or rent.
A study on the experiences of mortgage stress in Western Sydney identified two elements concerning the definition of mortgage stress:

  • Mortgage stress and financial stress are related and more broadly are perceived as the same problem; people who experience either or both do not think of them as separate issues

  • There is a risk of underestimating mortgage stress by focussing on arrears instead of accepting a wider more contextualised definition of the problem

The UWS study also noted that people who participated in the study had never or rarely missed a mortgage repayment. In spite of this they defined themselves in mortgage stress. A second finding was that participants were diverse in terms of socio-demographic characteristics – they reported different levels of educational attainment, different levels of English proficiency and varying levels of mortgage commitments. The complex variables and uncertainties that in combination lead people to mortgage stress were also uncovered in this study – relationship breakdown, low incomes and loss of income are just some of the reasons, which demonstrate the difficulty in establishing direct cause-effect connections for mortgage stress.5

The same complexities are present for people experiencing rental stress. The lack of housing supply drives up the private rental market which makes it extremely difficult for people on low to moderate incomes, supported by government benefits or on a sole income to maintain rental payments. Further, people identify with places and choose to live in an area based on a connection or have support networks in the local area. It is imperative that greater options are made for those on low to moderate incomes as many are being forced to look outside of their local area for housing and thus sever links with support networks.6
The negative impacts of housing stress are associated with negative impacts on lifestyle, quality of life and mental health. There are numerous consequences for those who are faced with housing stress and the current lack of supply in affordable housing. These include:

  • Those experiencing domestic or family violence may settle for housing or assistance which places them at risk of further violence;

  • Impacts on physical health due to food insecurity

  • People may settle for inappropriate and overcrowded living conditions;

  • People may resort to poor quality housing;

  • People may resort to poorly located housing;

  • People with unstable housing histories face increased competition to access the limited supply of affordable rental housing

  • Families and individuals may be faced with becoming homeless and/or remaining homeless for longer periods;

  • Inability to make payments on other bills resulting in severe financial stress and a bad credit rating

Affordable housing in Western Sydney
The issue at hand is that the current demand for affordable housing in Western Sydney exceeds the available supply demonstrated by the following:

  • An increasing number of people are experiencing housing stress, moreover, vacancy rates are low, rental prices are rising and demand is increasing

  • Development of affordable housing including social housing has not kept up with the rate of population growth across the region. The projected growth will further exacerbate the problem

  • The current housing boom in Sydney has seen increased housing costs which are beyond the means of low income earners

  • The Draft Metropolitan Strategy has estimated that by 2031, the workforce in the Western Sydney (West, South Western and the West Central and North West sub-regions) will increase by 313,000 jobs to 1,119,000. This will be highly beneficial to Western Sydney; as one of the priorities for the Metropolitan Strategy is to boost the contribution to Sydney’s manufacturing, construction and wholesale industries in Holroyd (and others?) and, increasingly, in the Western Sydney Employment Area; however, it does not take into consideration the capacity to increase affordable housing for the future population

  • Housing targets have also been set in the Draft Metropolitan Strategy and affordable housing was discussed in the Department of Planning’s White Paper on the review of the NSW planning system. However, it is unclear what provisions will be in place to encourage affordable housing development, so this requires further consideration

  • Mature family households and emerging empty nesters will continue to increase in numbers in most of the established residential areas, which reduces the supply of available housing

  • One of the key issues in relation to Aboriginal housing is that the Indigenous population in Western Sydney is increasingly growing, and yet little is being done to meet their housing needs. The housing sector for the Indigenous population is not being assisted to grow in conjunction with mainstream community housing in the region

  • In order to meet the needs of low income earners and single person households a greater number of one bedroom dwellings, boarding house, granny flats and studio type dwellings need to be provided, and they should be of reasonable quality and well-maintained

  • There is a serious lack of homelessness emergency relief for those who are in need of such a service. Organisations that provide emergency relief report being at capacity and find it difficult to manage the demand for their services

  • The number of people accessing the Temporary Accommodation service through Housing NSW has increased across the entire Western Sydney region

Section Two
What can be done to respond to this situation?
The Western Sydney Housing Coalition seeks to address the current affordable housing issues across Western Sydney so that the people of Western Sydney have access to secure and affordable accommodation that meets their needs. To date the Coalition has organised several forums that brought stakeholders together to discuss this issues and identify strategies to address the issues. Below are the outcomes of the More Affordable Housing Faster forum held on 14 November 2012 in which participants identified potential solutions to respond to the housing shortage and increase housing supply.





Planning system

  • Lack of effective state-wide planning framework that responds to affordable housing

  • Existing planning mechanisms do not encourage new affordable housing development

  • Subsidise private property

  • Land cooperatives

  • Local social enterprise groups

  • Policy for % of affordable housing to be provided as part of large development in Western Sydney


  • Relationship between public sectors / community housing

  • Diverse stakeholders

  • Engage developers

  • Partnerships

  • Mixed equity models


  • Availability of funding

  • Bodies

  • Overall market

  • How to increase housing stock

  • Inadequate tax system

  • Subsidy for low income earners

  • Lobby state government to allocate funds

  • Economic structures exclude the poor

  • Government and private developers to provide investment for more affordable housing

  • Easier to get housing loans for low and medium income earners ie cheaper and protected

Role of government

  • Processes

  • Policy

  • Tax system

  • Affordable housing policy

  • The housing market is driven by an economic system that leads to inflation

  • Ineffective housing policy

  • Advocate to state/federal government for state/national housing policy

  • Mining tax invested on affordable housing

  • More support to people with housing needs including social housing

  • Government to prioritise funding for affordable housing

  • Retain public land and estates for affordable housing

  • Involving the public and local community at every stage of the proposal and negotiating process

  • Greater genuine public participation in local housing decisions


  • Remove community opposition / stigma

  • Perception of what affordable housing is

  • Stigma of affordable housing stops DAs being approved at Council level

  • Community to recognise needs

  • Opposition to affordable housing development

  • Perspective that Housing is for investment / wealth creation

  • Education to raise awareness amongst councils and community

  • Referral services

  • Information sharing

  • Make issue relevant to everybody

  • Public support for policy changes

  • Stronger campaigns to help understanding and reduce opposition to developments



  • All levels of supply under pressure

  • Private citizens willing to sub-let a spare room to disadvantaged clients


  • Convince developers of viability

  • Restrictions by housing bodies

  • More funding, land release and corporate responsibility

  • More private investment in affordable housing

  • Investment incentives

  • Increase number of affordable housing

  • Provide more opportunities for community housing providers to borrow and expand

  • Stimulus / concessions has policy to develop % of affordable housing


  • Government and private sector to provide or invest in affordable housing

  • Prioritise affordable housing as a basic right

  • Housing for shelter not just revenue investment

Diverse needs / groups

  • Need appropriate housing for diverse groups (e.g. domestic violence clients, asylum seekers

  • Housing as community

  • Strong local community (e.g. diverse urban villages)

  • Mobilise public political action

  • Re-introduce SWEAT equity

  • Limits placed on corporate power

  • Profit motive

  • Empower people to raise their voice and be counted

  • Campaigning and lobbying


  • NRAS funding to community housing providers

  • Community housing leverage off properties

  • Review tax systems

  • More clarification of incentives

  • Tax breaks to promote investment

  • Transfer of titles to increase stock

  • Government subsidy to homeless

  • Increase CRA

  • Review private rental


  • Government at all levels to communicate /cooperate more

  • Review policy gaps

  • Raise public awareness


  • Change perceptions

  • Investment should not be limited

  • Public support – campaign

  • Community participation in planning

  • Challenge perceptions of public / affordable housing


  • Self-governing co-operative models

  • Self-sustainable models

  • Flexible / adjustable housing stocks

  • Alternate economics and politics

Where to from here?

  1. Recommended actions

  1. Promoting better understanding about the need for affordable housing and to overcome community prejudice against these types of development

  1. Advocate for provisions in the Affordable Housing SEPP or alternative SEPP for affordable housing requirements as part of major developments and that councils are consulted about the management of these properties

  1. Advocate for provisions in the Affordable Housing SEPP or alternative SEPP that support social housing development in areas not normally zoned for residential flats. However, local councils should be consulted on individual proposed developments

  1. Work with partners at all levels of government, the private and community sectors to facilitate the improved provision of affordable housing of mixed densities and housing types

  1. Advocate for the building of new dwellings which are accessible to the needs of the elderly and people with disabilities and are able to be readapted to a conventional configuration as required

  1. Ensure that Aboriginal housing programs, including Aboriginal community housing, obtain a fair share of programs to expand the supply of community, public and affordable/intermediate housing

  1. Encouraging local councils to incorporate affordable housing objectives within their Local Environmental Plans and DCPs

  1. Investigate emerging funding opportunities and incentives for the development of affordable housing

  1. Advocating to Housing NSW to renew their older housing stock to improve amenity in local areas and reduce stigma about social housing tenants

  1. Advocating to Housing NSW to increase residential densities which are close to employment centres, pedestrian networks, shopping facilities, parks, service provision and public transport

  1. Advocate and work with local councils and organisations to improve the security of tenure and access to services for boarding house residents and tenants of other low-cost housing

  1. Continue to work with boarding house owners/managers and landlords to ensure that they are aware of their rights and obligations related to health, building and fire standards

  1. Advocate for and support strategies and services by respective local councils that increase access to employment and training services for low to moderate income households

  1. Make submission to the New Planning System for NSW White Paper regarding affordable housing

  1. Partner with Australians for Affordable Housing to host a public meeting with federal election candidates to identify position/commitment to the provision of affordable housing

  1. At the end of the forum, the question was raised, what are our next steps?

Suggestions included:

  • To identify and clarify the issues discussed

  • Form listening groups to prioritise issues, actions and campaigns

  • Form interest groups to work on these priorities

  • Establish a feedback cycle to the WSHC

  • From this, identify the theme of the next forum (bearing in mind that:

a) Some local groups clusters may already be working on such actions; and

b) There is a Federal election in September – what can we do between now and then?

This paper has dealt with some of these steps, by summarizing the feedback from interest groups into the table above. The intention from this is to establish a feedback cycle between participants and the WSHC, and also to plan a follow-up forum. This in turn will link with other steps we are taking, leading to the Federal election. These include: a workshop run by Australians for Affordable Housing on using the media, and campaigning to make affordable housing al election issue.
This also links to the last two recommended actions from the forum, attached – namely, make a submission for the NSW White Paper on affordable housing; and partner with AAH to host public meetings in strategic electorates in western Sydney to consider their position/commitment to providing ah. Both these actions are now being followed up, and we will keep those on our contact list informed about these developments.

Appendixes: A Govt. responses; B. Other Initiatives; C. WSHC – associated groups

  1. 1. Local council response


Type of project/scheme

City of Canada Bay

  • Affordable Housing Program guided by Council’s Affordable Housing Policy adopted on 7 February 2012 – By providing affordable rental housing; Council aims to assist people earning low to moderate incomes to live and work in the City of Canada Bay, provide them with improved rental housing security and enable them to establish savings for the private rental market or home ownership.

  • Council owns 24 dwellings located within North Strathfield and Concord West area, which range from size from one bedroom to two or three bedrooms. The units are managed by St George Community Housing.

City of Sydney

  • Sustainable Sydney 2030 – City of Sydney Council is working to provide more housing diversity including more social housing and not-for-profit housing for those on low to moderate incomes. This strategy is aiming to have 15% of the city’s housing to be affordable for its residents in the year 2030. This includes 250 new social and affordable homes in Glebe

  • ‘Common Ground’ is a project being run by City of Sydney that is working to provide affordable housing in order to end homelessness. The project provides housing to those on low incomes and/or who are at risk of becoming homeless; it then works to provide personal support and a path to employment.

  • The Commonwealth Government has been working toward the National Affordability Rental Scheme which intends to provide tax incentives for investors to build up to 100, 000 new affordable rental properties.

Fairfield City Council

  • Through the Sustainable Development Framework Fairfield City Council aim to provide an additional 24,000 additional dwellings by 2030 to meet the demand for smaller, more diverse household types

Blacktown City Council

  • The Affordable Housing and Homelessness Taskforce was established in late 2008 and focuses on homelessness, mortgage repossessions and potential opportunities, options and actions to address these issues

  • Blacktown City 2025 aims to improve the quality of Department of Housing stock and estates through advocacy and partnerships with relevant government agencies and service providers. Lobby the State Government to recognise the need for new infrastructure and for improvement to existing infrastructure to accompany increasing demands in housing, population and employment growth targets set by the State Government

Marrickville City Council

  • Affordable Housing Strategy 2009-2011 aims to retain and facilitate the creation of affordable and appropriate housing in the Marrickville local government area. The purpose is to provide for social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability. Anticipated outcomes of the strategy include: increased stock of appropriate affordable housing for households with very low, low and moderate incomes; protection of existing stock of low cost accommodation; and increased community capacity and participation.

Parramatta City Council

  • Affordable Housing Policy May 2009 sets out targets for providing affordable housing for the community. The policy identifies several options of how this will be provided.

  • Affordable Housing Demonstration Project(20 dwellings) Council may use its assets, in partnership with other organisations and agencies, to develop affordable housing dwellings in such a way that meets the social need and contributes to strategic asset management priorities

  • Affordable Housing Planning Incentives – Affordable Housing Bank (100 dwellings) Council may offer bonuses to developers who are willing to provide affordable housing as part of new developments.

  • Other Council development projects(20 dwellings – CIVIC Place, 20 dwellings – other projects) Council may incorporate affordable housing dwellings into plans it already has in place or is scoping for new building works / alterations to Council owned land and buildings

Penrith City Council

  • The Council aims to have 9 new residential areas, 13, 900 new dwellings in order to accommodate the 37, 000 new residents expected by 2031

  • A new urban area ‘Waterside’ is undergoing development. It consists of 53 hectares of urban area, 701 projected dwellings and an estimated population of 2, 150. Currently over 200 lots have been approved with 70 dwellings constructed

  • Glenmore Park Stage 2 is a residential site with 125 hectares of urban area, 1, 628 projected dwellings and once complete will have an estimated population of 4,500

Randwick City Council

  • Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2008

Waverley Council

  • The Waverley Affordable Housing Program (WAHP) is a social initiative to encourage, retain and enable the provision of affordable rental accommodation. The WAHP seeks to assist households on low and moderate incomes who are unable to secure rental housing, and who can demonstrate a strong connection to the Waverley LGA.

  1. 2. State and Federal government response

Federal Government



The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS or the Scheme) is a long term commitment by the Australian Government in partnership with the States and Territories, to invest in affordable rental housing.

The Scheme seeks to address the shortage of affordable rental housing by offering financial incentives to persons or entities such as the business sector and community organisations to build and rent dwellings to low and moderate income households at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the market value rent.

NRAS aims to:

• increase the supply of new affordable rental housing

• reduce rental costs for low and moderate income households

• encourage large-scale investment and innovative delivery of affordable housing.

The Australian Government is committed to stimulating the construction of 50,000 high quality homes and apartments (investing approx. $6.2 billion of housing assistance), providing affordable private rental properties for Australians and their families.


In response to the global financial crisis, the Federal Government invested a further $5.6 billion nationally to construct additional social housing and repair existing properties through a Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

State Government



White Paper – A New Planning System for NSW


Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney


Destination 2036

Department of Local Government


NSW 2021: A Plan to Make NSW Number One

  1. Other initiatives: Regional housing groups

Name of Initiative


Western Sydney Housing Coalition*

  • Purpose – see Terms of Reference attached.

  • Membership – elist of approx 180

  • Frequency of meetings – quarterly plus working group meetings as required

  • Two major conferences and four forums. See Fairfield Housing Taskforce website for links to online literature.

Fairfield-Liverpool Housing Taskforce

Formerly Fairfield Housing Taskforce to Oct 2012 convened with support from Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre and Fairfield Council. Now supported by FMRC and Liverpool Council. Meets every 6 weeks. Fairfield Council Community Cultural Grant project Sense of Home 2011-12. Homeless Week sleepout `Under the Stars’ planned 20 August. Web page http://fairfieldhousingtaskforce.com

Macarthur Housing Coalition

A network of public housing tenants around Campbelltown, who advocate for better conditions and participation in processes (e.g. redevelopment), and to address problems raised by tenants. Meet monthly; approx. 40 members. Supported by Animation, a project of St. Vincent’s de Paul Society, Campbelltown. Have held a series of public forums; meet with tenants in local estates; attend annual Shelter conference, and network with other housing agencies – e.g. Tenants Union, SWRTA, Social housing Network, UWS Urban Research Centre and WSHC.

Auburn Housing Taskforce

More information to be added

Hawkesbury Housing Forum

More information to be added

Macarthur Housing Taskforce

More information to be added

South Western Regional Tenancy Association

*Members include NGOs and local councils in Western Sydney – mostly Parramatta to Auburn, Liverpool to Campbelltown. Meets quarterly to co-ordinate activities; have held regional forums on housing issues; produced issues papers issued to State government, media and members about the issues discussed, findings and recommended actions.
C. Member organizations
Councils: Parramatta, Holroyd, Penrith, Auburn, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly, Fairfield, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury
Housing groups: Wentworth Community housing, Shelter NSW, Western Housing for Youth, Common Equity, Canterbury & Fairfield Interagency
Other: WS Community Housing, Macarthur Sector Connect

City of Sydney Council. (2009). Draft affordable rental housing strategy 2009-2014
Housing NSW. (2010). Information on Liverpool Housing Market. Retrieved May 2nd, 2011, fromhttp://www.housing.nsw.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/7D19180D-32AF-402B-8094-364C338D66DC/0/InformationonLiverpoolHousingMarket.doc
Liverpool City Council. (2009). Liverpool Community Strategy
Randwick City Council. (2007). Affordable housing strategy and action plan
University of Western Sydney. (2008). Models of sustainable and affordable housing for local government. Retrieved May 2nd, 2011, from http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/164620/models_of_sustainable_and_affordable_housing_for_local_govt.pdf

1 City of Sydney (2008) Affordable Housing Research Paper

2 Family and Community Services - Housing NSW (2012) Fact Sheet: Renting Affordable Housing

3 City of Sydney (2008) Affordable Housing Research Paper

4 City of Sydney (2008) Affordable Housing Research Paper

5 UWS Urban Research Centre (2010) The Experience of Mortgage Distress in Western Sydney

6 Randwick City Council (2007) Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan

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