From eNews 537 – Friday, 11 March 2011
The inner city housing affordability crisis requires urgent state planning reform, innovative models and financial incentives to help people on lower incomes afford a home. Two new projects at Glebe and Green Square for more than 500 affordable housing units is important progress, but just a fraction of the housing needed.
A mix of housing is needed to ensure people from all walks of life can afford to live and work in the city. There is an enduring shortage of housing for low income workers, social housing for our most disadvantaged residents, and supported accommodation for people overcoming homelessness.
City of Sydney research for Sustainable Sydney 2030 identified a need to maintain social housing, while housing for low to moderate income households must increase from less than one per cent now to 7.5 per cent of all dwellings.
The City's sale of part of the former South Sydney Hospital site to City West Housing to provide over 300 affordable housing units is one innovative project that will help achieve these targets.
Council also recently approved the first stage of work for new social and affordable housing in Glebe, at the Elger Street Housing NSW site. The project will turn 134 old public housing units into more 153 new public housing, 83 affordable housing and 250 privately-owned dwellings.
The project will preserve existing public housing levels and increase the level of affordable housing for workers and others on low incomes - a housing type Sustainable Sydney 2030 indentified was particularly undersupplied. The new properties will also improve Housing NSW's ability to meet tenant needs, through designs that increase accessibility for seniors and people with a disability.
I promote compassionate support for people experiencing homelessness, particularly help to move into and retain secure permanent housing. The City's Homelessness Unit, the only agency of its kind established by a local Council, provides information, advice, accommodation and practical support to thousands of people facing homelessness or sleeping rough across Sydney and NSW.
We also facilitate the Homeless Persons Information Centre (HPIC), a telephone information and referral service providing services to people homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Our Council jointly funds, with state and federal government, the Assertive Outreach services program. Last year we donated $600,000 to the program so staff can better understand the individual needs of people and help them individually to get the help and services they need.
The City conducts street counts of people who are sleeping rough in summer and winter. These counts help ensure our services meet people's needs and provide us with information so we can lobby for additional resources to overcome homelessness.
Other innovative programs include the Woolloomooloo Integrated Service Hub and Homeless Connect at Town Hall, which bring together essential services such as Centrelink and housing providers, at one place and at one time. The 'My Place, My Face' photography exhibition helped tell the stories of people sleeping rough, promoting better understanding.
City of Sydney Homelessness Services: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Community/HomelessnessServices/Default.asp
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