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Affordable Housing: where do we start

Though we are still a few weeks away from the first Eurobodalla Council meeting of the new term of Councillors they have already been hard at work participating in a string of briefings, inductions and round table meetings. The first agenda item was affordable housing. In order to establish what might be done to alleviate the problem in the shire the councillors took note of the submission that was provided to the NSW Regional Housing Taskforce in 2021 as a starting point The previous Eurobodalla Council, in their August 2021 submission to the NSW Regional Housing Taskforce, provided several interesting comments around the hurdles that they saw to the housing crisis such as "community opposition to change even when it is consistent with agreed planning outcomes or existing consents. Development consents often obtained and sat on to address the above issues, receive opposition when they are activated". Their submission identified that there was a lengthy lag time (often 2-3 plus years) between zoning - subdivision consent – construction and lots coming on to the market. They also noted that dwelling construction activity was high but not able to meet a strong market resulting from bushfire rebuilds and relocation from the cities in response to Covid, on top of normal market pressures. Additionally they recognised that builders are facing unforeseen material supply shortages and increase material costs leaving them with longer build times and a blowout in prices with reports that some builders are increasing the build price to avoid incurring a loss saying the building industry is facing more and more uncertainty with the construction boom putting pressure on the industry from sourcing supplies and a lack of skilled workforce. Of particular interest was the admission that the lack of suitably qualified development specialists in regional areas e.g., urban designers, architects, surveyors and development engineers can result in poor quality subdivision and housing development applications requiring lengthy negotiation processes and council resources to ensure that even minimum standards are addressed, and prevent the development industry from developing new housing products better suited to the market need. Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Submission to the Regional Housing Taskforce Having now received a full briefing from council on the delineations of Local Government, State and Federal Government responsibilities the Councillors are informed of the additional compounding issues around supply due to the impact of the bushfires and the ongoing impact of Covid on the materials and labour supply chain. Taking this information to their next meeting the councillors were able to listen to the concerns of the region's not-for-profits who focus on providing services to the homeless and those in need of affordable housing with a view to finding the gaps and hurdles between needs and provision. The next meeting will bring back to the table answers that were sought from the last meeting. In addition to the local initiative the councillors are well aware that they are not in isolation on the issue that is affecting the entire South East. Eurobodalla is now in discussion with Bega and looking to connect with Shoalhaven to determine if there is a way of collectively looking at housing solutions along with a myriad of other issues such as transport, tourism and waste. Each and all of these findings and reports will become available as they are developed to ensure community inclusion.

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