Housing affordability has emerged as an issue in the upcoming local government elections, with a new group called Housing Action for Sydney set to run against Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s Independent Team.
While traditionally seen as the domain of the state government, the group said local government also had a role to play in the housing sector.
Denis Doherty, Housing Action for Sydney’s mayoral candidate, claimed the City of Sydney Council wasn’t standing up to the NSW Government or providing enough practical support to housing commission tenants.
“Sydney is at crisis point, with workers unable to afford to live in the City of Sydney,” said Mr Doherty.
“The City has an important role to play in terms of reminding the State Government of its responsibilities to ensure people can access fundamental rights like having a roof over your head.
“There’s also a lot of practical support the City could give public housing tenants … If elected, we will provide teams of council workers for speedy and proper maintenance of public housing.”
Mr Doherty, a former chair of both the Glebe Youth Centre and Glebe Neighbourhood Centre, took particular aim at the City’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, which he alleged contained “social cleansing” measures.
“Clover Moore says all the right things but actions speak louder than words. If you look at her actions, she wants to decrease the proportion of public housing in Sydney from 10.4 per cent (in 2006) to 7.5 per cent under her 2030 vision.
“We need more public housing, not less. Frankly, this is social cleansing in action.”
A City of Sydney spokesperson said the City was committed to ensuring residents had access to decent housing.
“The City is the only council in NSW with a dedicated Public Housing Liaison Officer, who is in contact with up to 2,500 public housing residents each year,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said the public housing proportion of 7.5 per cent in 2030 was in fact ambitious “but achievable”, and would be met by 600 new public housing dwellings for pensioners and the unemployed.
The City was also taking steps to increase affordable housing for workers, said the spokesperson.
“The City is aiming to increase the number of affordable housing dwellings to 7.5 per cent of total dwellings by 2030 to ensure key workers can continue to live close to employment, transport and education.
“The affordable housing levy is one of a range of measures the City has undertaken to achieve these targets.”
Housing Action for Sydney will be officially launched at a fundraising event in Surry Hills on August 19. The 2012 NSW Local Government Elections will be held on Saturday, September 8.