HOUSING HASSLES: Northern Rivers Social Development Council president Cr Jenny Dowell and NRSDC chief executive Tim Childs exam
HOUSING HASSLES: Northern Rivers Social Development Council president Cr Jenny Dowell and NRSDC chief executive Tim Childs exam

Dream home a nightmare

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

IF ONLY owning a home on the Northern Rivers was as easy as folding a piece of paper.

Byron Bay's Railway Park yesterday sprouted a lilliputian-sized paper township as experts debated affordable housing options for the region across the road at an Affordable Housing Forum, organised by the Northern Rivers Social Development Council.

The tiny paper houses had written inside them the dreams of local residents who are feeling the stress of spiralling housing costs.

"People are hurting. There's a feeling of despair," said Tina Hadley, of the By- ron Shire Council's affordable housing advisory committee.

Across the street at the Byron Bay Community Centre, 115 delegates discussed solutions to a growing problem facing the Northern Rivers.

"The clear message is that affordable housing is no longer marginal, it's now mainstream," said Tim Childs, CEO of the Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC).

"We have 53 per cent of the local population in need of some form of affordable housing."

Lismore city councillor and NRSDC president, Cr Jenny Dowell, said the forum had discussed successful models to take back to her council for consideration, including selfbuild models where individuals, State and local governments go into partnership to build housing.

Delegates also discussed statistics from the NSW Department of Planning, which predicts the Northern Rivers will need 18,000 more houses by the year 2031, with over one-third of those being needed by the over-65-yearolds.

"Councils need to face up to this," Cr Dowell said. "We're not looking far enough into the future."

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