HOME BOY: Byron Shire Councillor Paul Spooner is pushing for more affordable and social housing.
HOME BOY: Byron Shire Councillor Paul Spooner is pushing for more affordable and social housing. Sam Elley

Beware market forces in solving affordable housing crisis

ONE of the prime movers of the recent Affordable Housing Summit Councillor Paul Spooner has warned against allowing market forces to solve the local affordability crisis.

"As a council we have to realise we have to take care of the four R's- rates, roads, rubbish and especially residents,” he said.

"Housing prices are through the roof and there are absolutely no affordable houses for our residents in Byron Bay,” he said.

"Its clear that if you leave it to the market the market does not support the community.”

On Thursday Council will receive a Draft Byron Shire Residential Strategy Submissions Report and Cr Spooner urged council to use every instrument at its disposal to maintain a diverse community.

"In order to maintain a diverse community we need a range of housing options and the Residential Housing Strategy and the Rural Land Strategy are key to promoting a diversity of housing,” he said.

"We have to ask do we want urban sprawl like West Byron or do we want infill development to maintain the environment and housing affordability.

"All levels of government have to be involved and we should be exploring things such as inclusionary zoning- where all new developments have to include say 30% of affordable or social housing.

He also took aim at sharing platforms such as Air BnB that are taking rental properties out of the market for local residents.

"I recognise that renting out a room in your house for less than 90 days a year to generate a passive income is fine,” he said.

"But if you are an investor that lives outside the area buying property here with the specific intention of renting it out on a consistent basisthen this needs to regulated and taxed as a business.”

The affordable housing summit attracted more than 120 participants who heard about best practice in Australian housing types and models, tenure, security and planning.

Mayor Simon Richardson said following on from the Summit, the Byron Shire community had work to do.

"Our residents and councillors came together at the end of last year in an open forum to discuss affordable housing. This summit allowed us to hear from experts about what was possible.

"These two events will put us on track for further development and final agreement on how we can meet the affordable housing challenges before us.

"Our community's role over the next twelve months is to journey alongside Council to investigate, debate, agree and finalise and celebrate the completion of our rural land use strategy.”



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