Affordable Housing Report criticised unfairly

Letters to the editorLetters to the editor

[Forum] Councillor Bruce McLachlan’s comments about the Affordable Housing Report (edition 150) sell Central Coast residents short.

Overall, the comments reflect a lack of understanding of the strategies, present points out of context, and give an unbalanced and misleading account.

I totally agree with the Councillor that we, the residents, require an objective explanation of the proposals and strategies to implement affordable housing. We also need to be know why this intervention is urgent. An overall picture is required, not omitting the positive details. Intervention and change is essential. This report is professional, researched, and supported by detailed statistics which are already tested strategies. Councillor McLachlan says that the statistics do not take into account “the peak property cycles”, but this is not correct. The report states that by “2036, around 32,000 Central Coast households are likely to be in house stress or serious housing need, based on current trends and projected growth rate”. Laurie Maher, the former CEO of Coast Shelter, reports that the Central Coast needs 33,000 more dwellings now to cater for our needs.

We can ignore and blindly oppose the report but, if we want our children and grandchildren to live nearby, the need for adjustments is overwhelming. We are not talking only about the seven per cent of street dwellers who will often remain so. We are also talking about the 93 per cent of homeless, our families, who now as adults, are forced to remain at home, school children couch surfi ng, relatives living in garages, new-start recipients who can fi nd nowhere to rent, and older people who pay 60 per cent of their pension on rent. People who have had families here for generations need lower rent, and this report has the potential to deliver it. One out of the 26 recommendations is, I believe, unsound.

I agree with the Councillor that the oldstyle boarding houses are not the best option, but the New Age Boarding Houses are excellent. Privately owned boarding houses are renowned for violence and disruption. New ones recommended will be owned by Not-for-Profi t Housing groups who can maintain and supervise them. I would be pleased to live nearby and to see my sons live in them. One must remember that boarding houses were one-half of one strategy out of the 26 suggested. The remainder I fi nd more than acceptable. Councillor McLachlan refers to another section which requires planning variation, including lot sizes and height changes. He failed to say that this is for the specifi c needs of low income clients and that the height is a maximum of 15 metres.

He also omitted to say that the residents would include a variety of social groups in order to prevent stigma and retain area house values. The report also proposes strict clauses to include building maintenance. The Councillor fails to explore the reason for this variation. It makes the provision of low rental dwellings economically viable. There are examples of all these developments on the researcher, Judith Stubbs’, website and they have a history of success in various local Council areas. Look at it. Yes, this has traditionally been an area of contention and if used just to give developers space for rich yuppies, it is unnecessary. If, however, it is one way by which we can provide good quality, low rental property, secured for low income people, then we may have to consider our options.

Email, Oct 10 Margaret Hagan, Warnervale