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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

New Council moves ahead on commitment to secure affordable housing

The new term of Eurobodalla Council has, as per their election commitments, recognised that safe, secure and affordable housing is critical to the wellbeing of individuals and local communities and the economic prosperity of the Eurobodalla. In a report to the Council meeting of May 24th 2022, the councillors will begin the process to find solutions and initiate actions to meet the critical housing supply shortage across all income levels and tenures, especially ahead of the Moruya Bypass and new Eurobodalla Hospital projects that will see a major influx of workers and families to the region. The report says "Whilst the declining trend of housing affordability is not unique to our Shire, housing pressures have become more acute with rental affordability becoming out of reach for average income earners, low rental vacancy and very high house price growth. More specifically: • The median house price was $730K in September 2021 and the median apartment prices was $525K – respective growths of 18% and 25% over the nine months to September 2021 • The median weekly house rent increased by $50 and weekly apartment rents by $25 over the 12 months to December 2021. • Housing stress is experienced by over 20% of households in some parts of Moruya, Batemans Bay and Narooma, and by over 12% of households across the Eurobodalla Shire. This is higher than other regional areas in NSW, across NSW and throughout Australia. source The Background continues: "In the Eurobodalla all these factors have been exacerbated and will continue to be exacerbated by the influx of workers to deliver major NSW Government investment projects. We have seen a take-up of rental housing for project managers, professionals as well as construction workers for the Batemans Bay Bridge (Princes Highway) re-alignment project over the last few years. This has been both longer term rental stock as well as short term holiday accommodation. The influx of worker is predicted to continue and to be greater with construction of the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital – scheduled to commence in early 2023 and the Moruya Bypass planned for commencement in late 2023. In addition, Council’s own Southern Water Storage project will add to this demand in the southern part of our Shire. Council has identified housing supply as a risk to the delivery of this project and as a result the matter is being considered by tenderers as part of the tender process. The increasing prices and tightening markets (exacerbated by worker accommodation) will impact on housing security for very low to low income households, particularly in the Moruya area. This will likely have a flow-on effect of increasing the number of rough sleepers and homelessness in the LGA. The utilisation of holiday housing stock will have an impact on the availability of accommodation required to meet the demands of our visitor economy. With a heavy reliance on visitor economy and a recognised shortage of visitor accommodation already at peak times, the destination cannot sustain longer term use of holiday accommodation particularly in the Moruya area where holiday accommodation is already limited. Looking at self-contained accommodation for weeklong stays for workers. Batemans Bay has 275 properties available in normal periods. Moruya has 20 and Moruya Heads a further 20. Two major works projects are going to put an overflow into surrounding areas for accommodation nights, but those towns will miss out on the daytime economy of the workers that would be normally captured by visitors to the area. Worker housing is a critical issue for employees across our Shire with Council itself unable to attract professional and technical staff due to the inability to secure safe and affordable housing. The cumulative effect of these circumstances is contributing to a broader impact on local economy and the provision of social services and support across the LGA. Council participated in the Regional Housing Taskforce review of housing supply in regional areas and in our submission identified the need for the NSW Government to provide housing as part of major infrastructure projects and the ability for such housing to potentially play a long term role in addressing housing affordability. The taskforce recommendations report included: “ Recommendation 4 – Investigate planning levers to facilitate delivery of housing that meets short term needs by: 4.2 implementing early and regular assessment of and mechanisms to address additional housing demand associated with State Significant Development in regional areas across construction and operational stages.” Whilst this recommendation recognises issues raised by Council in previous submissions, this matter is now critical and the LGA needs to see this recommendation actioned immediately given the imminent construction of the State significant projects. Council say they are willing to work alongside Regional NSW in the delivery of the proposed Regional Housing Delivery Plans – however cross government assurances are required that this housing issue can be given priority and actioned immediately. Advocacy needs to be extended to a range of government portfolios and representatives at a State level. Council will be asked to vote on the motion: THAT Council 1. Undertake targeted advocacy to the NSW Government for significant infrastructure investment projects - namely the Moruya Bypass, and the Eurobodalla Regional Hospital - to urgently develop and implement funded strategies for the construction of housing to meet the needs of construction workers and the potential to provide long term housing supply. 2. Seek the support of the Land and Housing Corporation, Southern Cross Housing and LGNSW in the delivery of the advocacy. 3. Direct the advocacy to the following NSW Government members, via letter from the Mayor and seeking a meeting with Council: NSW Premier, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP. • NSW Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts MP. • NSW Minister for Families and Communities the Hon. Natasha Maclaren Jones MP. • NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP. • NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, the Hon. Sam Faraway MP. • NSW Minster for Regional NSW the Hon. Paul Toole MP • NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport the Hon. Stuart Ayres MP. • State member for Bega the Hon. Michael Holland MP

Above: Houses were built for the workers at Moruya Quarry in the 1920's. Can such vision be repeated one hundred years later in 2022?

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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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