Providing affordable housing is a focus point of the Byron Greens council election campaign.
Providing affordable housing is a focus point of the Byron Greens council election campaign. Warren Lynam

Affordable housing a focus point of the Byron Greens council election campaign

WHEN long-term Sunrise resident, Nicqui Yazdi, received notice to vacate her much-loved townhouse after 18 years of rental, she said the news was like a thunderbolt.

"There is so much of my life invested in this house. I've raised my two girls here, and our neighbours - most of them have been here a long time like me - they're like family,” she said.

Things went from bad to worse for Ms Nicqui, a local youth community worker, when she began scouring the Byron Bay rental market looking for somewhere suitable to move to.

"Absolute dumps are now going for $550 a week - hundreds more than I can afford,” she said.

"I can't even find anything in the hinterland for less than $450 a week. I'm now faced with having to look at moving out of the Shire, which after so many years of this being home would be heartbreaking.”

The lack of affordable housing for people wanting to rent or buy in Byron Shire is something that Greens Cr Simon Richardson has been working hard to address.

Cr Richardson is running again for Mayor 2016-2020 and one of his main priorities is affordable housing in the shire.

"When community workers like Nicqui ... older residents wanting to downsize ... young locals looking to move out of home but stay near their parents ... and young families are forced to leave the shire because of high rents and high property prices, it makes Byron Shire a poorer place,” he said.

According to Northern Rivers Social Development Council CEO, Tony Davies, Byron Bay is the most expensive rental area outside metropolitan regions.

He believes that negative gearing and capital gains discounts encourage property speculation in the area and have driven up prices, as people seek to profit from the property market.

The high cost of renting is supported by Anglicare Australia's Rental Affordability Snapshot, which has revealed a drop in the amount of affordable housing on the NSW North Coast of 6%.

Recently, Cr Richardson announced a plan to provide 'pop-up' affordable housing on council-owned land. The housing would cost around $50,000 to $80,000 and would not be much bigger than a granny flat.

The home would be fully self-contained and off-the-grid, with their own solar, water and composting toilets. Rental prices are estimated to be around $350 a week, and there would be an option for residents to buy their homes outright over time.

NSW council elections take place on Saturday September 10, and the Greens will announce their ticket in early August.