Today the NSW Minns Labor Government has broken an election promise and shamefully announced it will press ahead with plans to privatise half of the Waterloo South public housing estate.
Under the plans, the current 749 public dwellings will be demolished to make way for 3,000 new apartments - only 30% of which will be social housing, which is just 2% more than the Liberals original plans. A further 20% will be “affordable” housing, and the remaining 50% will be private.
Jenny Leong Member for Newtown and Greens NSW Spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness said:
“Today NSW Labor has broken their election promise to Waterloo residents that they would stop the sell-off of the Waterloo Public Housing Estate.
“What they have announced today are plans that are in substance only marginally better than what was originally planned under the Liberal National government.
“NSW Labor had a chance to end the Liberal’s privatisation agenda, instead they are continuing this shameful legacy of evicting public housing tenants from their homes, for insulting increases to social housing stock that barely touch the sides of the housing crisis.
“The Greens will continue to stand in solidarity with the Waterloo community, public housing tenants and activists across the state - to stop the privatisation agenda, push for the site to remain 100% public housing, and for affordable housing to be actually affordable in perpetuity.“ said Ms Leong.
Sylvie Ellsmore, City of Sydney Deputy Mayor and Greens Councillor said:
“We are losing public housing in the inner city at a rapid rate. This project will mean we go backwards in terms of the percentage of public housing in the city.
“The Waterloo South plans have been sold as an increase in social housing, but in reality they will see the City’s largest public housing estate go from 100% public housing – which it is now – to 30% or less public housing.
“It is beyond disappointing that we have seen the continuation of many Liberal projects to demolish and privatise inner city public housing – not just in Waterloo, but in Glebe and Erskineville.
“The maths simply doesn’t stack up that we need to privatise so much public land to upgrade public housing. The decision to rezone and privatise public land worth billions of dollars need to be the subject of public scrutiny,” said Deputy Lord Mayor Ellsmore.
The Greens are calling on the NSW Labor Government to go further than their announced extension of temporary accommodation from 2 days to 7 days, and remove the cap entirely, to keep people safe and work towards ending homelessness.
Jenny Leong, Member for Newtown and Greens Spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness said:
“The Greens are calling for the limit on temporary accommodation to be scrapped, it would be near impossible for anyone to find long-term, secure housing in just 7 days - let alone people experiencing crisis.
“Extending the limit on temporary accommodation by just 5 days when the public housing waiting list in some areas is 10+ years, there is a dire shortage of transitional housing options, and affordable rentals in the private housing market are non-existent, is not enough.
“Any limit on temporary accommodation fails to put vulnerable people’s needs first - it is not a stable solution and means too many people will be forced back into unsafe situations.
“The limits on temporary accommodation need to be scrapped entirely, alongside a massive investment in specialist support services, so we can move to a Housing First approach in NSW that will end homelessness and keep people safe.
“Temporary accommodation should only end when someone is at the point of securing safe, affordable, ongoing housing.”
Abigail Boyd, Greens Spokesperson for Gendered Violence and Abuse said:
“We are in the middle of a housing and cost of living crisis. It’s almost impossible to find permanent accommodation, be approved and move somewhere within a week. It’s not just an unrealistic expectation, it's a dangerous one.
“Limiting crisis accommodation is one of the largest obstacles to escaping violence. The 7-day period is still 3 weeks short of the period that experts in the DFV sector have been calling for as their minimum ask, for years now.
“This government is still asking victim-survivors, at a time when we know they are at the most risk of harm, to scramble to secure accommodation within a week.
"We had expected this new Labor government to make tackling the domestic violence crisis in our state a far higher priority. They know the stories, they know the evidence, it's time they act on it.”
The Greens welcome indications that the NSW Labor Government will consider action on excessive rent increases, but a consultation paper won’t pay the rent. Renters need a freeze on rent increases while this longer-term reform is implemented.
Commenting on the NSW Labor Government’s rental reform consultation paper released today, Jenny Leong Member for Newtown and Greens NSW Spokesperson for Renters’ Rights and Housing said:
“The Greens welcome that the NSW Labor Government is coming to the table with reforms to make renting more affordable and secure - reforms that the Greens have been pushing on for years.
“The Greens and renters are ready to fight the powerful real estate and developer lobby that will no doubt be ready to stop reforms from undermining their profits.
“Ending unfair, no grounds evictions and allowing pets in rentals are long-overdue reforms that would give renters desperately needed security.
“But we need to ensure that no-grounds evictions are ended for all renters on all leases - including renters at the end of a fixed term lease.
“Any action on excessive rent increases need to include longer-term rent controls to ensure we are bringing down the record-high rent costs and actually making renting affordable.
“Dealing with rent increases isn’t a data or information sharing exercise - renters know when their rent increase is excessive, what they need is clear limits on what a rent increase can be.
“The Greens want to make unlimited rent increases illegal, establish rent caps, and put hard limits on the amount and frequency of rent increases.
“But a consultation paper won’t pay the rent and renters are in crisis right now. We need to freeze rent increases for as long as these reforms take to be considered.
“The Greens Emergency Rent Freeze Bill is before NSW Parliament right now - we could have this in place within the month if the NSW Labor Government backed it in.
“Across the country the Greens are standing with renters and pushing state and federal governments to go further and faster on rental reform.
“With rent caps now being seriously considered in NSW, a rent freeze not ruled out in Victoria yesterday, and renter’s rights pushed onto the national cabinet agenda - it’s clear a rent freeze is possible. ”
Commenting on the Minns Labor Government’s major planning and housing announcement today, the Greens are calling for a minimum 30% affordable housing in all new private developments to address the serious housing affordability crisis.
The Government needs to stop outsourcing responsibility for the housing crisis to the private sector and start taking genuine responsibility to ensure that housing is for people, not private profit.
Comment by Greens MP Sue Higginson, spokesperson for Planning and the Environment:
“Taking more power away from councils and local communities to incentivise private developers is the exact opposite of best practice planning pathways. To tackle the housing crisis, the NSW Government should be examining locally driven solutions that are interactive with existing communities and incorporate the local knowledge and planning controls of local councils.
“Abusing the State Significant Development pathway to skip planning controls for private housing developments is not an appropriate way to address the housing crisis. Failed planning regulation that has been consistently weakened over the last two decades has created the illusion that only further private profiteering can solve the issue but that simply isn’t true.
“What the Labor Government is proposing will effectively entrench corporate profits and manipulation of planning regulations as a function of housing developments. Chris Minns needs to break free from the failed corporate model for affordable housing and look to the world for best practice examples of ensuring that workers and residents can access and afford a stable and sustainable home.”
Comment by Greens MP Jenny Leong, Spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness:
“We absolutely welcome the Minns Labor Government’s commitment to boosting affordable housing supply - but we need to be mandating public and affordable housing in all new developments, not incentivising private developer profits.
“A target of 15% affordable housing doesn’t even touch the sides of the housing affordability crisis we are facing.
“The scale and severity of the problem calls for greater ambition: at a minimum, we need to see 30% affordable housing in perpetuity for all new private developments as a prerequisite for development consent.
“The cost of rent and housing is out of control - supply alone will not fix the crisis unless we mandate affordability. This means setting rents for affordable housing relative to income and guaranteeing affordable housing in perpetuity.“
Commenting on reports that the NSW Labor Government has abandoned controversial provisions that would have entrenched rental auctions, Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown and Greens Renters and Housing Spokesperson said:
“The Greens absolutely welcome the NSW Labor Government listening to the overwhelming community concerns and having the sense to put this on the backburner.
“From the moment we saw the details of this legislation, we knew that this provision would exacerbate the rental crisis and it’s why we’ve worked to expose, and put a stop, to rental auctions.
“We heard clearly throughout this inquiry that no one was asking for rental auctions to be entrenched in NSW - not tenants advocates, peak bodies, or the real estate industry.
“Now that we have dealt with this distraction, we can get onto the job of desperately needed rental reforms - that means working with the government to deliver portable bonds and end unfair, no grounds evictions.
“The Greens will also be stepping up the push for an emergency 2 year rent freeze and to give renters the ultimate transparency of fixed, advertised rental prices.
“We’re in a rental crisis. Every day we fail to take action is another day renters will face an unfair eviction or be hit with an excessive rent increase.”
Rent bidding must be banned alongside genuine protections for renters including ending no grounds evictions, freezing and controlling rents, and banning intrusive rental applications.
Commenting on reports today that the NSW Fair Trading Minister is looking into reform that would ban rent bidding, Greens spokesperson for Housing and Renters and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP said:
“Rent bidding should absolutely be banned, but we don’t need an investigation to tell us what we already know – dodgy agents and landlords are exploiting and profiting from the rental crisis.
“Conversations with people on the street, and endless stories in the news, show us just how bad the power imbalance between renters and their real estate agent or landlords has gotten.
“This is not a new problem and the Liberal Nationals have had 11 years in power to fix the rental crisis, instead they have ignored the renters in their communities and prioritised the interests of investors, real estate agents, and landlords.
“The Greens welcome the government’s focus on banning rent bidding, but let’s not hide under the cover of an investigation when we know it’s a problem right now.
“Every single day renters are being hit with massive rent increases they’re too fearful to negotiate or treading on eggshells to ask for basic repairs because of the threat of being evicted.
“At a time when more people are renting than ever before, and for longer, we need to fix the conditions that have made chronic insecurity part and parcel of renting.
“The Greens had a bill that would have addressed the crisis faced by renters, but Labor and Liberal shamefully teamed up to block it.
“Rent bidding must be banned alongside genuine protections for renters including ending no grounds evictions, freezing and controlling rents, and banning intrusive rental applications.”
The rental crisis will not get better without a freeze on rents and an end to unfair, no grounds evictions.
Data released today in the Annual Rental Affordability Index shows that rental affordability is worse than ever before, and people are struggling to make ends meet between the soaring cost of rent, food and electricity.
Greens spokesperson for Housing and Renters, and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP said:
“Politicians cannot continue to sit on their hands and ignore the renters in their community who are being forced to make the difficult choice between rent they can’t afford or eviction.
“The rental crisis isn’t going to get better until we freeze rents and get them under control, end unfair no grounds evictions, and stop the special treatment of landlords and investors profiting from the housing crisis.
“Renting in Sydney is now considered “critically unaffordable” and it’s snowballing into regional communities, as more and more people are driven out of the city and into the regions.
“No one should have to choose between paying their rent, putting food on the table, paying their bills on time, or getting Christmas presents for their families.
“Just weeks ago, the Greens pushed to end no grounds evictions and give renters security by Christmas but it was shamefully blocked by the Liberal Government and NSW Labor.
“Leaving renters to struggle with astronomically high rents and minimal protections is a political choice, and it’s time for politicians to work together to genuinely fix the rental crisis ,” Ms Leong said.
The Greens are calling on the NSW Government to take immediate action on the pervasive use of third party rental services.
Greens MP and Housing Spokesperson Jenny Leong said:
“Renters need urgent protections from third party services who are preying on and profiting off the housing crisis.
“Reports today that third party rental services could be actively facilitating rent bidding, and contributing to the soaring cost of rent, are deeply disturbing.
“And we know from the countless stories from renters in our community that these third party services regularly try to sell additional, and unnecessary, services like background checks to profit off renters desperation.
“Alarm bells should be ringing that these third party services have an immense amount of power, and an immense amount of personal information.
“Too often renters are given no choice but to hand over huge amounts of personal information, dating back years, to these services just to be considered for a rental property.
“Renting in NSW is stressful enough, without the added - and very legitimate – fears around personal information that recent high profile data breaches have exposed.
“The NSW Government needs to step in and take immediate action to review, regulate and provide much needed oversight to the pervasive use of third party rental services.
“We need to ban rent bidding, stop intrusive rental applications, and massively strengthen renters' data protections.”
Today’s rezoning approval officially rubber stamps the destruction of the Waterloo South public housing estate and will force hundreds of Waterloo residents out of their home.
Member for Newtown and Greens Housing Spokesperson Jenny Leong said:
“Today’s approval rubber stamps the unacceptable destruction of public housing in Waterloo and will force hundreds of people out of their home and the community they’ve lived in for years.
“Like many public housing estates, Waterloo has been neglected by successive governments who have underfunded maintenance and let our public housing deteriorate to justify the widescale sell off of public land.
“The Waterloo community has resisted this redevelopment since it was shamefully first announced just before Christmas in 2015.
“Since then the housing crisis has only gotten worse and the chronic lack of public and affordable housing in Sydney and throughout NSW has intensified.
“This could have been a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the housing and inequality crisis and genuinely invest in a massive increase of public housing in the inner city
“Disgracefully this rezoning will see a huge amount of public land sold off and turned over to the private housing market for private profit, for a measly increase in the number of social housing units.
“Right now there are more than 100,000 people on the public housing waiting list, some of whom have been waiting for over a decade. This rezoning will do nothing to meet their immediate need for safe and secure housing.
“This destruction isn't inevitable. NSW Labor must commit to stopping the demolition and co-designing a renewal strategy with the community that keeps people in their homes and ensures the site remains 100% public housing - not a plaything for private developers.
“The Greens stand in solidarity with all Waterloo residents now facing forced relocations. We will always defend public housing and everyone’s right to a safe, secure and affordable home.,” Ms Leong said.
Just days after committing to ending no grounds evictions, NSW Labor have teamed up with the Liberal National Government to block the Greens bill to end no grounds evictions.
Greens and Independent MP’s voted in NSW Parliament this afternoon for the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Prohibiting No Grounds Evictions) Bill 2022 to be urgently brought on for debate and voted on before the end of the year.
Greens spokesperson for Renters Rights and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP said:
“NSW Labor are telling renters one thing and doing another by refusing to support a push in Parliament that could end no grounds evictions by Christmas.
“Labor’s election announcement is cold comfort for renters in this state who will spend the next six months in chronic housing insecurity waiting on an election promise that may never be delivered.
“Every month we delay means thousands more renters will face rent hikes they’re too scared to negotiate, evictions because they’re asking for repairs, or be forced to move out of their home for no reason.
“Ending no grounds evictions is not controversial. We know from housing experts and tenant advocates that it is a simple and long overdue reform, and the reality is renters simply cannot afford to wait for a potential NSW Labor Government for desperately needed housing security.
“When it comes to addressing the cost of living crisis, election promises won’t pay the bills. Ending no grounds evictions is an immediate thing that would relieve the pressure on skyrocketing rents.
“The Greens back renters and will vote for renters rights every MP, every vote, every time.”