Eurobodalla is facing a housing and homelessness crisis.
- There is insufficient social housing stock, affordable rentals and homes to buy.
- This has been exacerbated by the loss of more than 500 homes during the 2019/20 bushfires and the volume of temporary workers living in the shire for major NSW Government infrastructure projects.
- Housing stress is being experienced by more than 20% of households in some towns, and by more than 12% of households across the whole shire - higher than national, state and regional averages.
- Currently more than 50 households, including working people and families, are living long-term in tents at Council’s low cost, primitive campgrounds.
With Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher leading the charge, we are exploring potential ways Council can assist people experiencing homelessness, including addressing the lack of rental properties in our community.
While Eurobodalla's homelessness services are providing support to people, there is a housing crisis that needs action by all levels of government.
The Mayor understands these actions are outside the usual local government responsibilities. The housing crisis is not something a single local council can fix, but we can do our best to support our community while the state and federal government plan and build more social and affordable housing.
We are asking the NSW Government to:
- Build more social housing in Eurobodalla.
- Invest in crisis housing.
- Build worker housing prior to major infrastructure projects.
- Fund planning functions that activate housing stock – we are gratified to see almost $500M committed over four years in the 2022-23 budget for this purpose, however it does not assist the short-term challenges.
- Amend caravan park regulations to allow extended stays.
- Allowing people to stay longer than the 50-day limit at campgrounds.
- Hiring mobile shower units for North Head campground (where a large cohort of people experiencing homelessness are living) to provide hot showers over the winter while examining options to permanently upgrade facilities.
- With welfare agencies, funding a pilot program to provide free laundry and shower facilities for people experiencing homelessness.
- Writing to non-resident ratepayers asking them to consider placing their property into the rental market.
- Compiling information to help residents consider whether a tiny home or caravan in their backyard is feasible.
- Exploring longer-term solutions that would see the Council provide land for tiny homes in a pilot project funded by the Federal government, or building a homeless shelter to be run by a local service.
- Liaising with local welfare agencies to ensure support is beneficial and practical.
- Talking to the community, the media and local MPs about this crisis situation to raise awareness.
- Preparing a local housing strategy to identify the actions needed to meet the shire's housing demands over the next 20 years.
Some councils around the country, like Brisbane and Byron Bay, are using the regulations available to them to push holiday rentals onto the rental market by reducing the days they can be available for holiday stays.
We appreciate investors have a right to their holiday rental income, so instead we have written to non-resident ratepayers asking them to consider putting their holiday home into the local rental market for the next 12 to 24 months.
We did this after the 2019/20 bushfires and more than 80 homes were placed into the market, which was a significant and generous help.
We'd like to thank all of the secondary home-owners who have responded to our request. Since writing to non-residents ratepayers at the end of June 2022, over 150 people have been in touch with us to find out more about how they can help and more than 50 non-resident property owners have put these houses into the local rental market or social housing through the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.
If you own a property in the Eurobodalla Shire that is not your primary residence and would consider placing it into the local rental market, you can: