Rental stress, domestic violence and homelessness are major problems on the NSW Central Coast and current Central Coast Council Administrator, Rik Hart, says he wants to make a difference.
By Jacquelene Pearson
According to Shelter NSW, the Central Coast community is suffering very high levels of rental stress.
In its 2022 report, After Shock, Shelter NSW explained that “the measure of housing stress assumes that when a low-income household spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs, it reduces their ability to spend on other necessities and leads to material deprivation and financial stress”.
The Central Coast was singled out in the report as one of the worst hit areas due to vacancy rates dropping by more than 60 per cent but rents increasing by 30 per cent.
Central Coast Council Administrator Rik Hart says part of the problem is the number of approved development applications for housing that are not being built.
“Turning to the pipeline, and this is a number that absolutely staggers me, across the whole Central Coast there are 48,000 dwellings that have been approved and 20,000 in Gosford that have been approved and no one is building them,” Mr Hart said.
When asked what he considered to be the impediments stopping developers from completing their projects, Mr Hart said, “That is a very good question and it is a question we are going to talk to the UDIA about, what is the blockage?
“A lot of it is the normal private sector approach to things, you get a DA, you knock something down to activate the DA and you land bank it, hold on until you sell it,” he said.
Mr Hart said inflationary pressures on building costs are one factor slowing down delivery.
“Actual building costs and supply chain costs have gone up dramatically because, I know from our situation you are talking about generally 7 per cent inflation but when you look at the building industry everything has gone up significantly.
“You can see with these building costs I don’t think developers can build a building when you consider the land costs and the building costs, I don’t think they can build it and sell it to people at what they can afford to pay for it with today’s interest rates,” he said.
Should the NSW Government fill the void and start to build its own stock of social or public housing?
Mr Hart would not be drawn on that proposition.
“I’ve got a paper coming, hopefully next month, looking at land that could be made available for affordable housing. Places where they could put something up for domestic violence victims, for instance.
“The Central Coast has such a massive problem, we are told by every agency, we are right at the top of end of the scale for domestic violence and rental stress.
“I have been very clear all the way through that social housing is a priority and, for domestic violence, I will give the land for those projects if we have to,” he said.
According to Shelter NSW, “A number of reforms are needed to both address the underlying market failures that have led to rising level of housing stress and homelessness, and to counter the direct impacts of the pandemic.
“While the development of a National Housing and Homelessness Strategy is important, the NSW Government should take immediate action to increase the stock of social and affordable housing, full implementation of stamp duty reforms and enhancing tenant protections.”