Council adopts Affordable Housing Strategy

Central Coast Council is to dedicate at least three Council-owned sites for affordable housing partnerships in an effort to relieve housing stress being felt by an estimated 24,000 Coast families.
At Council’s Ordinary Meeting on April 29, councillors authorised CEO, Gary Murphy, to finalise an Affordable Housing Strategy in a bid to provide more housing choice for households earning less than $100,000 per year.
Drawing heavily on a draft strategy prepared by housing expert, Judith Stubbs, which was on exhibition for 103 days last year, the new strategy outlines a variety of measures to help households which pay more than 30% of their gross income on housing costs.
The matter was previously deferred twice, as councillors worked together to develop a united approach to housing affordability.
Councillors agreed there was a need for 8,000 more dwellings for very low income households, 2,100 more for low income households and 500 for moderate income households, by 2036.
They voted to develop one Council owned site for an affordable housing partnership in the short term, with at least two more to follow as the strategy rolls out.
Sites chosen will be well located with regard to transport/services and not environmentally sensitive.
Council will also facilitate a multi-tenure development which will seek to include a new generation boarding house for very low income singles or couples, one and two bedroom apartments for very low and low income singles, couples and small families, and space for an on-site outreach service and manager’s dwelling.
It will look at a site for the short-term development of temporary dwellings such as caravans, cabins and tiny homes in partnership with a registered community housing provider.
Other measures to be considered include: rezoning developable land within 400m of town centres and 800m of transport nodes to allow multi dwelling housing; zoning precincts within Greenfield urban expansion areas to allow for multi-dwelling housing; and permitting multi-dwelling housing in R2 zoned areas.
Council will also consider amending parking standards for residential flat buildings and amending its forthcoming Development Control Plan to include a range of lot sizes to allow for different housing typologies.
Council will advocate to State and Federal governments for more resources to meet growing homelessness on the Coast.
It will facilitate relationships between local real estate agents and homelessness services, develop a pilot home share scheme and incorporate transitional accommodation options in multi-tenure projects to help the homeless into housing.
Cr Chris Holstein said the strategy would not be a “magic panacea for homelessness” but rather an attempt to keep people out of homelessness.
“Many people need more affordable housing options, including trainees, apprentices and newlyweds,” he said.
Cr Jillian Hogan said the strategy “provides a diverse range of initiatives – it is about our people, our residents, from all different circumstances, ages and workplaces.
“We have an opportunity to make a difference and change the course of people’s lives in a way we, as a Council, have never before,” she said.
“We could fob off housing issues and say this is a state issue, or a federal issue, but affordable and alternate housing is everyone’s issue.”
Cr Bruce McLachlan said he supported the strategy, following amendments made to the original draft which put more focus on placement in appropriate areas.
“This is the first time the councillors sat down as a group and worked through the issues and it was quite rewarding in that regard,” he said.
“I do have some reservations but am realistic and understand council cannot override state policy and the fact is people can build boarding houses in current zonings.”
He said talk of changes to negative gearing had already seen a drop in housing investors.
“If negative gearing is to be replaced, it has to be replaced by something else, and affordable housing may have to be the replacement,” he said.
Cr Troy Marquart said he was concerned about one of the strategies, which involves Council advocating for increased resources for “one stop shops to provide information and referral as well as services for chronically homeless people such as outreach medical counselling services, low cost meals, laundry, shower and internet access and storage facilities.
He was the only councillor to vote against adoption of the strategy.
Mayor, Jane Smith, said although she realised some people had been frustrated by the lengthy process involved in coming up with a strategy, the outcome was positive.
“Councillors worked hard to come up with a document most councillors support and that’s a great outcome,” Smith said.

Agenda item 3.1
Central Coast Council Ordinary Meeting, April 29
Interview, Apr 30
Central Coast Councillor, Bruce McLachlan
Interview, Apr 30
Central Coast Mayor, Jane Smith
Media statement Apr 30
Central Coast Councillor, Jillian Hogan
Reporters: Terry Collins and Merilyn Vale

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