Ballina leads push in housing

BALLINA could soon be leading the way in the development of affordable housing solutions.

Developers, community and social workers, business leaders, real estate agents, financial institutions and the council yesterday started work on a new action plan.

The forum, hosted by the Ballina District Community Services Association (BDCSA), was aimed at ‘ending the talk and finding an answer' to the affordable housing crisis.

BDCSA executive officer, Dianna Howell, said it was a positive step forward.

“We wanted to get a group ofvery diverse partners together to take the situation from talk toaction,” she said.

“We have to find better solutions.

“With a group like this, we can cover a broad spectrum of interests and we will be better able to lobby governments.”

Ms Howell said businesses throughout the shire were already starting to feel the effects of the housing affordability crisis.

“Even our organisation has suffered,” she said.

“In the last couple of years, we have found recruitment to bevery difficult.

“People want to live here in Ballina and work here, but they just can't afford it.

“So we have had trouble finding staff. And if we can't recruit workers, we can't provide our services.

“When housing becomes un-affordable, there are lots of flow-on effects.

“We don't want to become a town where only rich people can afford to live here. We want to have a social mix.”

Ballina Chamber of Commerce president, Glenn Costello, said affordable housing had to be considered as a top priority in Ballina.

“We need a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes,” he said.

“We need to increase the stock of housing.

“We need quicker approvals (for building) from the council.

“And the council could also take on the role of lead agency. What is the difference between the council being a developer of industrial land or as a developer of affordable housing?

“We need to have an action plan.

“It's all right to talk about affordable housing, but we need to have some outcomes.”

Ms Howell said yesterday's forum would help the group come up with an action plan to ease the affordability crisis.

This will provide a platform to lobby State and Federal governments and the council.

“We can now start to move forward,” she said.

“We want Ballina to be setting the example for the rest of the state.”

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