Lack of affordable housing issue is far beyond Local Government

Letter to the editor

[Forum] As I have previously pointed out, Kathy Smith, in her letter, ‘We need to support Affordable Housing Strategy’ (edition 153), starts from the fundamentally wrong positions, that the problem of housing affordability can be tackled by the production of physical structures, and that Local Government is an appropriate level of administration to assess and manage housing supply.

In fact, the issue is far beyond the financial capacities of Local Government to deal with, and requires a comprehensive approach that can only be instituted at the national level. She claims that “over half of our local residents need housing that is more affordable than they presently can find, or to find any housing they can afford”. Leaving aside the anacoluthia and the semantic errors, the corollary of this statement is that the cost of any housing subsidy would have to be borne by the remaining less-than-half of local ratepayers.

Yet, with the best will in the world, it is hard to see how this is equitable, when those ratepayers have had no responsibility for creating the problem and would, in fact, be paying to deal with an issue whose origins lie far outside any area of obligation that they can reasonably be expected to accept. As for the claim that “governments, community housing agencies and private developers have all learned from the mistakes of the past and will work to make all new housing attractive, safe and well supported”, I can only say that, with many decades of experience in the planning field, I can see no such light on the hill.

If we are counting on a change of approach by government, it would seem that the new Federal Taxation Office and the new State Finance Office in Gosford should disabuse us of any notion that those levels of government have any concern for community values or architectural merit. As for private developers, their sole concern is to maximize profits, and the general quality of development that they produce on the Central Coast should be sufficient evidence of the foolishness of relying on that sector for advances in affordable-housing liveability.

As I have said previously, the likelihood of Council action on any scale that would begin to ameliorate the housing affordability problems of the city is negligible. Regrettably, however, it is not unlikely that Council will adopt some policy-inprinciple (along the lines suggested by Ms Smith) that will raise hopes and deliver no results, leaving us worse off than we could have been. Perhaps, the money we are squandering fruitlessly on the imbecile War on Drugs could be diverted to a War on Housing Need. Now that would be something worth voting for.

Email, Nov 18 Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy