Waverley Council has announced a draft tenancy policy that aims to provide a new consistent framework for determining rent and subsidies for not-for-profit community groups in council properties.
Liberal councillor Angela Burrill said the policy will help make the processes for supporting community organisations leasing council premises more transparent to the rest of the community.
“The changes also aim to make the availability of community resources more equitable through a new formula and criteria,” she said.
“Under this new system, rent for each community organisation will be based on how much funding it receives, its capacity to charge fees, whether the service is largely supporting the local community, and how else the service aligns with council’s community planning priorities.”
According to a spokesperson for Waverley Council, Waverley rents are 32 per cent presently higher than the Sydney average. The tenancy policy is being reviewed in an attempt to increase the accessibility of Waverley properties for local organisations.
Mayor Sally Betts said council subsidies to Waverley’s community tenants ensure that a diverse range of priority services and cultural programs can be provided to the local community.
“There was no process, there was no protocol. So now what we’ve done is what we should do with all our properties – we should charter out at market rate a reduction depending on your category in the community,” Ms Betts said.
“We have categorised all the community organisations by how much discount they would get from their rent. The good thing about [this initiative] is how it is consistent, and we still have hardship provisions as well.”
One of the key community programs that council facilitates is the Waverley Artist in Residence program which provides three rent-free, non-residential artist studios in six month allotments.
Greens councillor Dominic Wy Kanak said it was important for council to recognise its talented community of artists and musicians who have formed housing enclaves throughout Waverley.
At the November 19 council meeting, two keys changes were introduced to council’s social and affordable housing arrangements.
The first concerned accessibility, with Waverley reducing the eligible age to 55 from 60 to accommodate people who will need help as they grow older.
Ms Burrill said by reducing the age restriction, council is making support available earlier to these residents who apply for help when they reach “a crisis due to ill health, losing their job or having to retire”.
The second change included a reduction of rent settings for low income earners.
“Tenancy policies are reviewed regularly to make sure they are benefiting the people we can best help, and that’s what this latest review aims to do,” Ms Burrill said.
The policy is part of council’s long term vision, Waverley Together 3, a 12-year community strategic plan outlining Waverley’s aspirations for sustainable living and governance.