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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial January 13th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, As you are no doubt aware there is much being said, and very little being done, around homelessness and housing affordability in the South East. While there have been some good initiatives to provide short term solutions the long term problems remain. In trying to work through possible solutions one of the questions I ask myself, time and time again, is “What exactly is an affordable house?” This leads down the rabbit hole of what people find acceptable. To most of us a three bedroom, one bathroom, lounge/kitchen/dining with a laundry would describe a basic home. A roof over our head, some room outside to grow a few flowers, maybe even the luxury of a driveway to park the mandatory car that every regional Australian family needs. There is a high demand for these basic houses but alas they are in short supply in the South East. By rights these basic houses are meant to be affordable to buy or rent—but they aren’t. The rules of supply and demand have seen to that, added with the fact that mortgages have increased and as a consequence rents have risen. So if there is no basic housing stock available and if the social housing stock of 700 houses or more are full then there is little left to do but to sleep rough in your car or attempt to make a camp somewhere where you won’t be moved on, such as the North Moruya Campground. Even there the laws say that you cannot stay indefinitely. In the past year or so we have had all manner of politician, bureaucrats, agency representatives and the media come and look at our plight, shake their heads and say how sad it is that we, as a nation, have come to this, and then go away. Fifteen minutes of fame, and then forgotten. With Christmas over and a New Year begun the noise of an election is in the air. The NSW State election is on March 25th, 2023. Ten weeks away. Ten weeks for those in charge of budgets, laws and policies to come up with a solution to the fact that there are more and more South Coast families finding themselves homeless due to housing availability, rental affordability and the very real increases in the cost of living that has little, if any, increase in wage. Local Government is right in advising the State Government that social and crisis housing is their responsibility. Coming from the other direction the Federal Government is also very clear that such responsibility rests with the State Government. It appears that the State Government is between a rock and a hard place and it appears that they too have no solutions. Basically there are too many people who need basic houses, and they need them NOW. But the basic house is not cheap to build. Firstly there is the issue of where to build. Social housing projects come with a stigma. They have a reputation for having “issues”. Do we create an enclave, as has been done in the region, with mixed results or do we intersperse affordable housing into new estates. A $600,000 basic house between to $1.5m homes? Given the rising cost of land with 450m2 selling for $300,000 the basic $600,000 house to accommodate one family is approaching $1 million. Of interest is that there have also been protests of proposed affordable housing enclaves by those in the community who feel that such an enclave might devalue their property or bring miscreants and mischief. Nimbys everywhere. I often think of the immigrants to Australia in the 1950’s who were given the most basic accommodation to hold them over until they could find their feet. The huts were built and supported by the government and those who were housed were thankful. The huts may well have been at a standard well below the average Australian home at the time but they offered shelter and security. A place to call home. The fact of the matter is that the cost of a basic Australian home is rising rapidly with material costs, wages and finance rates. Maybe we need to reconsider what is affordable housing and start to consider what is acceptable housing at a time of crisis where anything has to be better than living under a tarp or sleeping in the back of a car. Until next—Lei


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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