Region struggles with housing crisis
By RACHEL AFFLICK
INCREASING numbers of Northern Rivers families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
Census figures show an alarming number of Northern Rivers householders suffer mortgage or rental 'stress', spending 30 per cent or more of their income on housing payments.
The seat of Richmond, which encompasses Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Ocean Shores and surrounds, was revealed as one of the worst regional electorates for mortgage stress in NSW, with 37 per cent of households in trouble.
This is a massive increase since the 2001 Federal Election, when 28 per cent of households were in mortgage stress.
Renters are even worse off. The new data reveals 57.5 per cent of renting households in the electorate also under stress the highest proportion in Australia.
Labor Richmond MP Justine Elliot said local families were already under huge financial pressure. Escalating costs associated with petrol, groceries and childcare had further tightened the belt in what was already one of Australia's poorest electorates, she said.
"So many locals I speak to are worried about how their weekly budget would cope with another rate rise," she said.
Mark Harris, of City Pacific Finance in Byron Bay said the looming possibility of another rate hike meant it was a good time for people to consolidate their loans to generate long-term savings.
Whatever people did with their debts, it was all about being disciplined in making repayments, and always looking at paying off your higher rate interest debts as soon as possible, he said.