Inner West Council offers up council land for social and affordable housing
By ABHA HAVAL
Following an audit of land, Inner West Council has proposed 10 potential sites to develop social housing on council owned land. The proposed sites include Cove Street depot on Parramatta Road in Haberfield along with a few council car parks across the Inner West regions in Dulwich Hill, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Petersham, and Rozelle.
The Council has shortlisted land parcels to collaborate with local community housing providers including Bridge Housing, Link Wentworth Housing and St George Community Housing to build affordable housing units along with feasibility and threshold dwelling yields.
The Inner West is calling on the State and Federal governments and Housing Ministers to initiate a partnership to bring all levels of governments together to address the housing crisis urgently.
The motion to fund the Council’s Affordable Housing Fund and complete the audit for the land was passed in the council meeting earlier this month. The Inner West Council is hoping to lead the way in addressing the housing crisis across Australia.
Mayor Darcy Byrne said, “the Council wants to show leadership on the housing crisis. That’s why we are asking the state and federal governments to work in partnership with us to build desperately needed new homes on council owned land.”
The Councillors express their support for the development of the Social Housing proposal. Cr Pauline Lockie said, “council owned land is public land that exists for the public’s benefit. So, developing the right council owned sites into affordable housing can be a great use of this public land.”
“The housing crisis is so acute it’ll only be addressed if all levels of governments work together, particularly as state and federal governments have much more funding and land to contribute.”
Cr Dylan Griffiths, who brought the motion forward in the meeting told City Hub that the ongoing housing crisis is the “most significant social justice issue facing Inner West residents”.
“We need more public social and affordable housing. I’ve personally seen how access to public and social housing can change lives,” he said.
The audit of land was first commissioned in March 2022, and it has been a growing concern for the Council. Although in progress, it has yet to be finished. A deadline for completion of the audit has been set by the Council – November this year.
Cr Griffiths said, “the audit of Council land is an important first step so that council can partner with Community Housing providers [CHPs] and build affordable housing in the Inner West.”
“Developing its own affordable housing stock, working with CHPs and the state government to develop in the Inner West is one of the many actions that councils can take to improve rental affordability.”
Councillor Chloe Smith said, “we have made a great start and are very hopeful that more sites will be identified by the time the completed audit comes back to Council in November.”
While the Council is taking a stance in addressing the housing crisis, the Antipoverty Centre believes that the land should be kept in public hands, and not privatised.
Kristin O’Connell, a spokesperson for the Antipoverty Centre told City Hub that, “its good to see councils finally starting to take a little bit more of a role in addressing the need for low-income housing, but they need to recognise that more privatisation is not the answer.”
Drawing a distinction between, public housing, which the Department of Communities and Justice manages and the Land and Housing Corporation owns, on the one hand, and affordable and community housing, on the other hand, O’Connell issued a word of caution.
“The council should keep public land in public hands, and make sure that there are homes, and properties that are owned by the public on these sites.”
“I’m looking at this, and it’s vital that this is genuine housing that people on low incomes can afford. The so-called affordable housing is unaffordable by design, and it’s not helpful to build properties that aren’t available to people on the very lowest of incomes,” she said.