Renting chews up 50% of income

MEDIAN WEEKLY RENTS

Lismore: $230 for two bedrooms; $300 for three bedrooms; $350 for four bedrooms

Ballina: $288 for two bedrooms; $370 for three bedrooms; $430 for four bedrooms

Byron: $360 for two bedrooms; $430 for three bedrooms; $540 for four bedrooms

SOURCE: NSW Department of Housing

THE average weekly cost of renting a three-bedroom home in Byron Bay is $430.

But in other parts of the state, for example in Tenterfield, the same type of property will set you back just $190 a week.

For years now people have grappled with high rents, low incomes and the realisation that the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

John McKenna, the general manager of the North Coast Community Housing Company (NCCHC), says paying market rent is a difficult prospect for many tenants.

"A lot of people around here spend 50% or more of their income on rent," he said.

"And then you've got the costs of actually running your household on top of that.

"So yes, it does become very unrealistic for people and once you start to lose control of that, other things tend to fall apart."

NCCHC runs a social housing subsidy program and they currently have 32 homes on their books.

Despite this, raising awareness about the program and encouraging people to apply has been a major stumbling block.

"We had a two-bedroom home in Belongil Crescent in Byron Bay that was vacant for two months - for some reason we just couldn't get anyone to take it up," he said.

"We've also got properties in Lennox Head that are within walking distance to the beach."

Some are vacant right now.

For more information about North Coast Community Housing Company and the services it provides, visit ncchc.org.au or call 6627 5300.



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