Rents go through the roof


A CRISIS in local rental housing affordability is being tackled by Ballina Shire Council.

Councillors and staff travelled to South East Queensland recently to learn about affordable housing models.

According to figures from the Housing Industry Association, up to 60 per cent of renters in the Northern Rivers are paying more than one-third of their income on housing.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader said the trip was a 'real eye-opener'.

"I hope it will trigger several new initiatives to ease rental stress," she said.

"They could include creating affordable housing models in partnership with local councils and State and federal governments.

"It would be council's role to provide the land, or look at lowering the fees and charges for developers and private housing companies wanting to provide affordable housing."

The council's Strategic Services group manager Steve Barnier said the council had signed a memorandum of understanding with the NSW Office of Affordable Housing last year, and would now work on sharing resources with neighbouring Lismore, Richmond Valley and Byron Bay councils while completing a draft affordable housing strategy some time next year.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive officer Tony Davies welcomed the council's attempt to address the housing issue.

He said the crisis was now affecting working families and those in key employment like nurses, childcare workers and emergency personnel who could no longer keep up with rising rents.

"It's more than what you would call traditional homeless people looking for crisis support now. Across the Northern Rivers less than 10 per cent of housing is public, compared to more than 15 per cent in Sydney and other areas," he said.

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