Our Councillors recently endorsed a proposal to develop the strategy, setting in train a comprehensive review we hope will make a difference in helping people to find a secure home of their own.
We identified the need for such a strategy in our recent Local Strategic Planning Statement (adopted last year) and this has been reinforced by community concern about a need for more affordable housing in Albury.
While a key focus will be on people with low or very low incomes, the strategy will also examine the bigger picture on housing, including any planning levers that can unlock housing availability in our city.
One of the factors we’ll consider is the creation of new homes. We’ve had a record year for housing construction in Albury – with 592 new dwellings approved in the 2020-2021 financial year – but even so, there are some in our community who are struggling to find a place to call their own.
Our strategy will help us to gain a better understanding of what’s causing that shortage in the marketplace so we can work with other levels of government and our local stakeholders to present solutions.
We’ll work closely with industry, tenants, service providers and the community to gain a better understanding of the issues and develop a roadmap for more affordable housing options in the city. By gaining the data we need, we’ll be better placed to work together to find ways of improving the supply of housing, especially for low to moderate income earners.
It will be important to develop a framework that will help to deliver the right type of housing in the appropriate locations because one size does not fit all in the housing sector, especially when we consider that many in the community are ageing, and others are living alone.
We expect the strategy to be supported by the findings of the NSW Government’s Regional Housing Taskforce, which is expected to be delivered by the end of the year. We can then consider the impact of any new State Government initiatives that may affect the local market.
We’ve already contributed to that process through a submission to the taskforce which includes suggestions on how barriers to planning for new housing can be lifted. We look forward to continuing our work with the government to achieve the outcomes that are needed to make a real difference.
This work will also help to further drive the growth of our city by making it easier for relocators to live, work and invest in Albury – with the associated benefits to flow to the entire community.
Of course, homelessness remains a problem for all communities, ours included. The new strategy will support our existing Prevention of Homelessness Strategy by helping to improve the availability of low-cost housing, while we’ll continue our work with support agencies to help people doing it tough.
Housing affordability is a challenge facing all communities across Australia, with the pressures of Covid-19 adding to the problem.
While local government cannot pull some of the most important market levers – such as home building grants and tax incentives – we look forward to supporting governments to make those improvements where possible.
One of the early phases of the strategy’s development will include the preparation of a discussion paper that will be made available for public consultation prior to the relase of a draft housing strategy mid-next year.
Your feedback will be critical in helping us to deliver this strategy so please make a contribution when the project is presented for public consultation in coming months. Working together, we can build a better future where more people can enjoy the dignity and security of a secure roof over their heads.