Waverley Council puts housing affordability at the top of the priority list

Waverley Council

Waverley Council has launched three new engagement projects aimed at gathering information to address housing and housing affordability concerns in the local government area (LGA).

It comes as SGS Economics and peak body National Shelter this week released its annual Rental Affordability Index (RAI), which compares rental costs to household incomes.

The index found that Greater Sydney is now the least affordable capital city in the country and that renters in every capital city are now in a worse position than they were in 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic.

According to the NSW Department of Families and Justice, as a rule of thumb, housing for very low to moderate income earners is usually considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of gross household income.

Waverley Mayor, Paula Masselos, said the Waverley LGA was becoming increasingly unaffordable for young people and families, with the median weekly rent now $670.

Just last month, Waverley Council’s newly formed Women’s Council to the Mayor identified access to affordable, social and women’s refuge housing as the top challenge facing women, young women and girls in the LGA.

“In Waverley, along with many other parts of Sydney we are seeing more older, single women at risk of experiencing financial and housing insecurity,” Mayor Masselos said.

“Almost half (49%) of Waverley residents live in private rental, which is higher than the state (32.6%) and national (30.6%) averages, and many tenants are doing it tough, struggling to find a place, and to cover increasing rents and living costs.”

To help address some of the housing issues facing the community, Waverley Council is updating its Affordable Housing Tenancy Policy to improve access to Council’s affordable housing program for a wide range of households including single parent families, and essential workers on low incomes. The community has until Friday 15 December to provide feedback about the proposed amendments through haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au.

Waverley Council has operated the Waverley Affordable Housing Program since 2000, and currently provides 25 units of affordable housing.

“Our main proposed change is to detach our affordable housing tenancy program from market driven rents, and instead, to utilise use household income as the key driver of eligibility. By utilising the income limits for households of varying size we can improve more access for more peopleWe’ve also extended the rental term for people in our affordable housing units, from three to five years, allowing people more time to get back on their feet,” Mayor Masselos said.

A tenancy support webinar, conducted on 15 November, provided expert advice on tenants’ rights with a focus on negotiating better outcomes. It was recorded and now available online as a resource for our residents.

There is also an opportunity to increase the amount of affordable housing stock in the Waverley LGA by collecting contributions from developers of apartments and similar developments including shop top housing development. To do this, the Waverley Local Environmental Plan (WLEP) 2012 must be updated to include clauses that allow Council to mandate the contribution.

The Council is currently inviting the community to provide feedback about this proposed change. Feedback about the Planning Proposal- Affordable Housing Contribution Scheme closes 11.59pm, Wednesday 20 December 2023.

And finally, the Council’s Living in Waverley survey, open for feedback until Monday 4 December 2023, invites residents to provide feedback about what it’s like to live in Waverley and what factors contribute towards making somewhere a good place to live.

Housing affordability and overdevelopment are among the key topics covered in the survey, which is anonymous and takes 5-10 minutes to complete. The Council will use the feedback to plan future improvements to the local area, which is only 9.2Km2 and has a population of 68,605, making it the second most densely populated LGA in Australia after the City of Sydney.

/Public Release. View in full here.