Matthew Findlay - 6 July 2021

Matthew Findlay presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 6 July 2021.

I would like to speak to signal my support for this and the next council to show leadership in delivering new and affordable homes for more people in our community.

You have a home. I have a home. We are the fortunate majority who have a place to rest our heads at night and can call the Eurobodalla home. Unfortunately for too many, this isn’t a reality.

After the New Years eve fires, 380 homes were lost in the Eurobodalla, displacing many families and turning them to take up residence in local rental properties. Then following that, construction on the new bridge and the Aquatics center brought in more people to take temporary residence here in more rental properties. This has made it difficult for prospective families and businesses to move to the area as the price of rental housing is nationally at an all time high and rentals are scarce. We have been caught overwhelmed and underprepared.

I’ve lived in the area for nearly 30 years and have seen the rise in population. We have managed to accommodate the gradual rise with clearing and subdivisions but from a 1 traffic light coastal town of Batemans Bay to the potential future business hub of the south coast, it’s easy to see that the quick solution of clearing and housing is slowly eating away at the charm that is the Eurobodalla.

With new families moving in from the cities to work from home we need to free up the larger homes and find space to house our older generational residents who can’t keep up with running 4 to 5 bedroom houses.

But it’s not just our older residents who might benefit from a smaller home, and other key local area workers who would benefit from a larger family home being freed up. We need our low paid workers to live here comfortably as well. Whether you like it or not, the Eurobodalla is a mixed community that keeps us moving forward. Creating village like intentional communities could accommodate the aging community and low paid workers and free up the market for first home buyers or investors to create rentals.

A local register could be established asking for spare rooms and granny flats to accommodate workers constructing our aquatics center and bridges. This would help ease rental pressures and contain the land needed to fit more families in.

Now, I am just a builder. I would love to build homes for those in need, but I don’t have the power or capital to do so. But Local Government, in partnership with State and Federal Governments, have both the power and the capital. And it can be guided by local community housing NGOs. And it can walk alongside our local Aboriginal Land Councils, and it can attract and harness Commonwealth grants and loans to build affordable housing, to pay for housing infrastructure like roads, sewers, water and electricity, and for the homes to be built sustainably. If we as a council and community cooperate, we can make this idea of affordable housing happen.

As a builder, I can see our local industry will need to step up to build smaller homes on medium size blocks, and new kinds of homes, which are different to what we know and usually build now. That will be our contribution.

Others can also help solve our local housing crisis. Everyday residents can help with smaller accommodation. With the Bega valley shire council allowing secondary housing or granny flats on the R2 and R3 block.

With progressive thinking and decisive planning like this, we can plan for a growing Eurobodalla that meets the increasing need for affordable housing to rent and buy, and which maintains the clean and green environment we all treasure. To do this we need Councillors and staff who think flexibly and imaginatively, and can see development as more than just opening up land and making money.

We can provide incentives for developers to produce affordable and social housing in mass lotted sub divisions.

We can use the development infrastructure deferred payment policy, meaning developers will be able to repay costs of council owned infrastructure like roads,drainage and sewer when lots are sold or within ten years. As mentioned, there is also now Commonwealth grants and loans to help finance housing infrastructure.

People are moving to the nature coast and our council needs to accommodate these needs. We aren’t the sleepy coastal town we were 30 years ago. Our next council needs to recognise that we can keep our relaxed coastal vibe but It’s time we were proactive for the future of our community which depends on sorting out this housing crisis.