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New affordable housing just months away from opening

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Eight units are under construction at 115 Centre St in Casino through Momentum Collective.

Momentum’s Mark Edwards said the community housing project should be completed at the end of this year or early next year.

Community housing
Getting closer: An artist’s impression of the community housing in Centre St, Casino. Photo: contributed

“We want to make this available for people needing affordable housing,” he said.

“The units will be leased as low market rentals.”

One of the units will be a disability accessible property.

Momentum Collective has funded the Centre St project with support from the State Government.

The collective manages other properties in Casino.

Across the region, there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing, Mr Edwards said.

“This is a positive move to support local people and key workers who may not be able to access safe, affordable housing.”

Analysis from UNSW City Futures Research Centre and Everybody’s Home found Australia will need more than a million new social and affordable homes by 2036.

Nearly a third (316,700) of those will be needed in NSW with 99,700 of those outside Greater Sydney – including in the Northern Rivers.

Of 124,389 private dwellings in the 2016 Census in the Northern Rivers, 11.1% (13,885) were unoccupied – compared to 9.9% for the state.

Highest rates of unoccupied dwellings were in the LGAs of Byron Bay (15.3%), Clarence Valley (13.6%) and Kyogle (14.7%).

Meeting to prepare list of services on offer

At a public meeting on homelessness in Kyogle last Wednesday night, organisers Lynda Clark and Wendy Bolden had planned for Denise Hunter from Safe Haven charity to speak.

Lynda Clark and Wendy Bolden
Got it rolling: Lynda Clark and Wendy Bolden wanted to do something about homelessness in Kyogle so took action. Photo: Susanna Freymark.

Denise was unable to attend because of family issues and so Lynda read out an email from her.

Safe Haven was started in response to the volume of phone calls to domestic violence hotlines, Denise wrote. Denise realised there were 7.2 million spare rooms in Australia.

If a woman could be housed for two–four weeks in one of these spare rooms, she could be ready to move on to the next phase of her life, Denise said.

There was hesitation from some in the audience about the safeguards around temporarily housing women who were at potential risk of coercive control from their ex-partner.

Safe Haven provide daily contact with the guest and do police checks.

It was difficult for questions to be answered without Denise there, but the Safe Haven website provides more information. Go to safehavencommunity.com.au or phone 1800 042 836.

Lea Hine from Kyogle Family Support Services spoke at the meeting about what was available for homeless people.

For public housing in the area there was a five–seven-year wait. Other services included a Link to Home program where someone could access two nights in a motel. But this required Centrelink papers, bank statements and a rent diary.

Another government initiative was the Rough Sleeper program – but a designated worker had to witness a person sleeping rough to assess their eligibility and then long-term accommodation could be sought for them.

The problem is there is only one designated worker to do this and cover the area between Tweed and Grafton. The group at the meeting decided to compile a list of services available to homeless people in Kyogle. This included food pantries, where to get food vouchers and other assistance.

There is another community meeting planned tonight at the Family Support Centre in Geneva St in Kyogle at 6pm. Remember to go covid-safe.

Crisis talks over supply of residences

This month in Parliament State MP Janelle Saffin lodged 17 questions to NSW Housing Minister Melinda Pavey and Premier Gladys Berejiklian on housing supply and affordability.

Ms Saffin said:

  • Rural and regional NSW is facing a housing crisis;
  • The waiting time for public housing in Lismore is 5–10 years; and
  • The NSW Government only announced 800 new social housing dwellings in the Budget.

She called on the State Government to invest more in social housing in rural and regional NSW.

Housing costs

  • Housing stress is high in the Northern Rivers.
  • Among people on the lowest 40% of household incomes, 13.2%were paying more than 30% of their gross weekly income on housing costs (16,179 households) – compared to 11.7% for the state.
  • Housing stress is very high among renter households in Northern Rivers at 38.8% – compared to 28.4% for the state.
Richmond River Independent 30 June 2021

This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 30 June 2021.

Related story: A safe place to stay

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