What is affordable housing?
Housing is affordable if housing costs are less than 30% of gross household income. Households spending more than 30% of income on housing costs are described as being in housing stress. Housing stress impacts on quality of life and the ability to afford other living costs.
Affordable housing is designed for the needs of low to moderate income households and priced so families are able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. Affordable Housing differs from Social housing. Social Housing is a form of affordable housing that caters to households experiencing the highest housing stress and social disadvantage.
As Council cannot directly influence affordability in the local housing market, or reasonably provide the required volume of affordable rental housing within the LGA, Council adopted a policy position to prioritise affordable housing for moderate income households that are vital to the prosperity of the local economy. Council defines these families as key and essential worker households.
Who are Key Workers
In Australia and internationally, workers whose wages are typically set at a national or state level, including teachers, nurses, police and fire and emergency personnel, are considered key workers. This also includes support / ancillary workers in healthcare, education and emergency services; workers who support the labour force (e.g. child care and aged care workers and ICT support professionals and technicians); and low paid workers who are important for local economies, such as hospitality and retail workers.
Benefits of Affordable Housing
The primary benefit of affordable housing programs is a social one, providing low to moderate income renters with an affordable, secure housing option, leading to improved health and employment outcomes, a greater sense of safety, independence and social connectedness.
An increased supply of affordable housing also provides opportunities for local young people to continue to live and work in their community.
Affordable housing also delivers significant benefits to the local economy through diversification of the labour market, increased job retention and increased productivity.
How can we provide affordable housing?
Willoughby City Council is one of the first metropolitan Councils to recognise the need for more affordable housing.
Council recognises Affordable Housing as a vital element of social and economic infrastructure and has committed to increase the supply of affordable rental housing through affordable housing targets and policy.
Council’s own Affordable Housing Program and assets are strategically managed to optimise social outcomes and financial sustainability.
Affordable housing partnership
Willoughby City Council currently has 37 affordable housing units (as @ 2021) that are managed by Evolve Housing to provide affordable housing to key workers in our community. Evolve Housing is an award-winning, Tier-1 nationally registered community housing provider. Evolve Housing provide housing solutions to eligible people on very low to moderate incomes who are unable to access appropriate housing in the private market. Current vacancies and information on the application process can be found on Evolve Housing website.
New projects and initiatives
Willoughby City Council is currently undertaking planning for 2 new affordable housing projects. These are:
1. Abbott Road Affordable Housing Project
The initial plan is to provide 16 apartments – with an initial mix of:
- 2 x 1 bed units
- 12 x 2 bed units
- 2 x 3 bed units
2. Sailors Bay Road Affordable Housing Project
Project update – August 2021
As part of its affordable housing program Council will soon be lodging a Development Application (DA) to convert the underutilized hall space at the rear of Northbridge Library into 2 affordable housing units (1x1 bedroom and 1x2 bedroom).
If approved, the units will be managed by Evolve Housing, Council’s affordable housing partner and be made available for rent to key workers such as teachers, police, health care and retail employees who work in the Willoughby LGA (and their families). Key workers provide a range of local services in our community which we all benefit from.
Stuart Gibb, Community Development Team Leader
02 9777 7505