The NSW government released a discussion paper in May 2020 on a Housing Strategy for NSW. Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing and Jamie Parker MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Planning made a submission on behalf of the NSW Greens. The following is an extract from this submission.
As a matter of protocol and a mark of respect, we acknowledge it always was and always will be Aboriginal land and pay our respects to Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging.
We also submit that ‘A Housing Strategy for NSW’ must prioritise ensuring Aboriginal housing needs are met along the housing continuum. This means resourcing Aboriginal-led homelessness services, supporting Aboriginal-led community housing providers, pro-actively involving Aboriginal-led organisations in the development and implementation of this strategy and recognising through reparation that the land that is the focus of this strategy is stolen land that was never ceded.
- Incorporate plans for genuine consultation and input from Aboriginal-led organisations both in the development and implementation of the NSW Housing Strategy
- Recognise the need for reparations given that the land all of this housing will be delivered on is stolen land
- Ensure adequate resourcing and support for Aboriginal-led homelessness and housing services as well as community housing providers
- Identify housing as a key component of the State’s infrastructure priorities
- Establish an integrated Housing portfolio in NSW with a single Minister who has responsibility across private, public, community and rental housing areas, combined with the establishment of a Housing Ombudsman
- Incorporate specific actions to progress protections for renters and advance rental reforms which enable security of tenure, affordability and habitability for renters in to the NSW Housing Strategy
- Commit to large scale government development and provision of public, social and affordable housing as housing options for a range of tenants with varying incomes
- Mandate 30% affordable housing in new private rental housing developments
- Commit to ending homelessness and ensure there are no exits to homelessness from state institutions or as a result of family violence or economic disadvantage
- Recognise the climate crisis as a key driver for strong action in the housing strategy and include actions to progress zero emissions sustainable housing and large scale retrofitting of existing homes.
[UPDATE May 14, 2020]
Legislation Passed Supporting Renters
The NSW Parliament passed the Covid-19 Emergency Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 No 2 yesterday which included amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to be in force during the emergency period - a big step forward from where the government stood just a few weeks ago regarding protections for renters.
The amendments gave renters two important wins:
1) renters may be able to break their leases with reduced penalties by applying through the Tribunal under certain circumstances: if the landlord has refused to negotiate rent relief, or refused to negotiate in good faith or, if a tenant and a landlord are unable to come to an agreement on a fair and affordable rent reduction.
2) renters and households who are Covid-19 impacted (by losing more than 25% of their incomes or the household's income), will be able to receive reduced rents via a compensation fund that will support landlords who can show hardship and who pass on rent reductions to tenants.
The Greens put up a series of amendments which would have given renters more significant support at this time in key areas:
- giving the Tribunal the power to impose reduced rents and to prioritize renters' applications as urgent
- rent relief for renters and landlords in financial hardship
- restricting the ability of landlords to evict tenants on no grounds
- stopping retaliatory evictions
- break lease option without any financial penalty
- maintenance records available on request to renters
- allowance of pets to give tenants more flexibility when seeking a home
Jenny provided a wrap up of what happened on Facebook live after the legislation passed which you can watch here.
To find the details about these changes and other measures and how they can help in your specific circumstances, go to the Department of Fair Trading site or check out the information on the Tenants Union site.
We will continue to work for a better deal for renters especially during this pandemic when the right to an affordable, livable home is more crucial than ever.Read more
During the debate of emergency measures introduced to deal with COVID-19 in NSW, Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP, moved an amendment to ban No Grounds Evictions in NSW.Read more
During debate on emergency measures during COVID-19, Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP moved an amendment to ban retaliatory evictions during the pandemic.Read more
Greens Leader Adam Bandt and Senator Mehreen Faruqi discuss the housing crisis, and the looming debt crisis if tenants are forced to repay 6 months rent after the shut down is over.Read more
In response to today’s announcement by the NSW Government outlining an eviction moratorium for NSW renters and other measures, Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing welcomed the much needed protection put in place through an eviction moratorium and increased funding for tenant support, but questioned whether the money allocated to the package will actually assist in reducing rents at this time.
Jenny Leong MP said:
“This moratorium on evictions in NSW, including protection from being blacklisted, will provide crucial protection for those who have been living with the stress of being evicted into homelessness because they can’t pay their rent.
Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing and Homelessness is urging the Premier to put an immediate moratorium on evictions for people unable to pay rent during the Corona virus pandemic, as well as recommending a number of urgent measures to assist people who are homeless and those living in public and social housing.Read more
Today I called on the Premier and Minister Gareth Ward MP (Families, Communities and Disability), Melinda Pavey MP (Water, Property and Housing) and Kevin Anderson MP (Better Regulation and Innovation) to take urgent steps to ensure that people in NSW have a safe, secure, affordable and habitable place to live - from renters to public and social housing tenants and those who are homeless. At the top of the list was our call for a Moratorium on any evictions of rental tenants during this period.
Read or download the full letter here.
Housing has become unaffordable for many people living all over Sydney.
I was happy to speak recently on behalf of the NSW Greens at the large community affordable housing forum, "We All Need a Home" in Parramatta which was presented by a group of community advocacy organisations.
The panel of local, state and federal politicians and housing experts heard from local residents about how hard it is to make ends meet when the rents are so high and the lack of security of tenure means people are forced to move regularly, adding large additional costs and dislocation them from their community.
We know that a very large percentage of people living in Parramatta are renting - over 6,000 according to the Census which is 68% of residents. The mean unit rent is about $500 per week and house prices have skyrocketed with the mean sales price for a home now over $900,000. These statistics mean that housing is just simply unaffordable for a significantly large proportion of people in Parramatta.
The Greens are committed working with community groups to push housing reforms in the NSW parliament which include giving all councils in NSW the right to prepare affordable housing contribution schemes for specific precincts, areas or developments within their local government areas. Inclusionary zoning is an crucial step to actually providing affordable homes and not just facilitating the construction of investment properties.
We will also keep advocating for key reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act including the call to abolish no grounds evictions as well as changing state legislation so that annual rent rises are pegged to the CPI.
While we have seen some positive changes to renters rights this year as a result of our lobbying and that of many peak housing groups, there's still plenty more to be done.
NSW Greens Housing spokesperson and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has called out the failure of the NSW Liberal budget to address systemic housing issues while talking up a $3.9 billion surplus.
“It is meaningless for the Premier to identify homelessness as one of her priorities if she is not willing to invest to actually address the housing crisis in our state, especially when the budget surplus this year is $3.9 billion.”