BY KENJI SATO
The City of Sydney is not providing enough affordable housing to meet the ballooning cost of rent in Sydney, according to Labor Councillor Linda Scott.
“We need to put concrete ideas on the table about how our council could ensure there’s housing diversity in the City of Sydney, and that we properly addressing the city’s housing affordability crisis,” Clr Scott told City Hub.
Clr Scott’s remarks followed her investigation into two units in Potts Point, which are currently undergoing extensive renovations.
Labor Councillor Linda Scott said that the council had moved away from providing affordable housing, following a council inquiry into the two properties.
The inquiry found that unit seven and eight at 12 Springfield Avenue had previously accommodated social housing tenants, but will be rented out at a market rate once the renovations are completed.
“It’s clear from these two examples that the City of Sydney has historically had a role in providing affordable housing. But Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s change of policy to move away from affordable housing is moving the council in the wrong direction,” Clr Scott said.
City Hub understands that the housing was purchased by the former South Sydney Coucnil following the selloff of the nearby Kelburn Hall, some of which was leased by council as affordable housing. The former council had a number of similar properties which it rented out at low rates.
Local resident Peter Young told City Hub that when Clover Moore was the MP for Bligh, she worked tirelessly with the Kings Cross community to get South Sydney Council to purchase these two units. They were bought to replace social housing units in Kelburn Hall, following a fire which was the catalyst for the council to sell off the unit block.
Tenants were assessed for social need and two were found as being eligible for Council support.
“The clear intention at the time, as Lord Mayor Clover Moore (at the time the MP for Bligh) knows full well, was that these two units were to be held forever as social/affordable housing units in order to maintain the stock of Council owned social/affordable housing which was otherwise being reduced by the sale of Kelburn Hall,” Mr Young said.
“Sadly over the last twelve years the City has a very poor record in dealing with the stock of social affordable housing it held. A property has been sold and the proceeds of sale, nearly $1 million has been placed in a bank account and not re-invested in replacement housing stock. Other properties have been placed on the open market for rental and still others turned over to artists use.”
But a City of Sydney Spokesperson told City Hub that the two units had never been classified as affordable or social housing, and that there were other, more suitable locations.
“The City of Sydney is working hard with the limited tools available to us as a local government to support more affordable housing,” the spokesperson said.
They said a number of properties owned by the City had been transferred to affordable housing providers.
“New social and affordable housing is needed from the state and federal government to reduce the number of people sleeping rough in Sydney, and to stop people becoming homeless in the first place.”
“We have reviewed our property portfolio, identified land that might be used for affordable housing, and called for Expressions of Interest from potential providers. A number of City-owned properties have now been transferred to affordable housing providers,” the spokesperson said.
Labor Councillor Linda Scott said: “I’ve put a whole range of solutions on the table from examining using council’s own empty building, reviewing our boarding house planning regulation, offering rebates for those who provide affordable housing, but all of these strategies have been rejected by the Lord Mayor. There is much more city can do in the future .”
“I’ve put a whole range of solutions on the table from examining using council’s own empty building, reviewing our boarding house planning reg, offering rebates for those who provide affordable housing, but all of these strategies have been rejected by lord mayor. There is much more city can do in the future.”