Greens call on NSW gov to fix affordable housing shortfall

THE Greens spokesperson on Affordable Housing Jan Barham has called on the state Government to address the shortfall of 71,000 affordable homes in regional NSW.

"Unaffordable housing is not just a Sydney issue," Ms Barham said.

"Right now, there are thousands of households across regional NSW that are struggling to pay the rent.

"Latest data shows that 71,000 low-income renter households in regional NSW are in housing stress.

"They are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on household costs, which, for many, means foregoing other essential goods and services to keep a roof over their head.

"NSW is experiencing gentrification of not only city-based suburbs but also in some coastal regional areas, which are suffering from affordable housing crisis due to the popularity of locations."

"As at December 2014, only 23,964 dwellings were considered affordable for a low-income household in regional NSW.

"In Coffs Harbour, 10.6% of rentals were affordable for a very-low income household.

"In Byron, that figure was 3.7%.

"This data is consistent with Anglicare Australia's mapping of rental affordability in regional areas.

"Its latest report showed that while there is greater availability of affordable rentals for people earning the minimum wage, most households on income support payments cannot afford rent in the regions."

Ms Barham said that the lack of affordable housing in the regions means that people are resorting to living in overcrowded housing, caravans and their cars because they cannot find an affordable home.

"It's unacceptable that in NSW we have people living in caravans and cars because of the huge shortage of social and affordable housing," she said.

"These circumstances impact on people's wellbeing as housing stress equates to emotional stress.

"More must be done with planning rules to support those who are vulnerable in this current housing crisis.

"The data shows that while the NSW Government's announcement of 6,500 additional social and affordable dwellings is a good first step, it barely scratches the surface of what's needed to address the affordable housing crisis across the state."