Single mother Marcia Waddell with her son Luke, 11, and another single mother, Gabi Enright, who have been battling a shortage of affordable housing in Ballina.
Single mother Marcia Waddell with her son Luke, 11, and another single mother, Gabi Enright, who have been battling a shortage of affordable housing in Ballina. David Nielsen

Strategy for housing shortage

THE affordable housing crisis in Ballina has become so bad that the council is stepping in.

A draft strategy, which is on public exhibition until the end of January, would become a ‘tool kit’ for the council.

Options include rent subsidies, development incentives, or even the possibility of council taking on the role of property developer to provide housing.

In September The Northern Star reported on the plight of single mothers Gabi Enright and Marcia Waddell, who struggled to find somewhere to live.

“Rents are enormous and moving is very stressful,” Ms Enright said at the time.

It was a similar story for Tanya Turner and her son, Hayden, in July.

They had been homeless for seven months, despite repeated attempts to rent privately.

“Everywhere here in Ballina is so expensive,” Ms Turner said.

Mayor Phillip Silver admitted that addressing housing affordability was not a core function of the council, but he said something had to be done.

“More and more, we are getting dragged into these areas,” he said.

“We want to provide a platform so that if sponsorship comes along from government and non-government organisations, we are in the right position to use it.

“Not everyone can live in expensive houses. We need a mixed housing supply.”

According to the Northern Rivers Social Development Council, the main problem is that median rents in Ballina are very high compared with the average income.

A three-bedroom home will cost about $360 a week, but the median income is $775.

Cr Silver said options such as rent subsidies could be considered.

“A big part of the issue is the State Government saying local governments are too slow at rezoning land for subdivisions,” he said.

“But we don’t think that is the case in Ballina.

“The problem is that more people want to live in Ballina than there are houses at the moment.”

In July Ballina MP Don Page said there was at least a 10-year wait for public housing.




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