Mayor continues housing crisis push

23 June 2022

As the NSW Government commits almost $500M in a four-year plan to deliver thousands of new homes across the state, Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher is asking ratepayers with a second home in the shire to consider placing their property into the local rental market.

“We can’t wait years for homes to be built,” he said. “We need to address the lack of rental properties in our community right now.”

“If there are more properties for rent we can support workers and families in the area, meaning people are less likely to become homeless.”

The Mayor says 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 available for holiday stays, but he wants the NSW Government to take the lead.

“We appreciate investors have a right to their holiday rental income, but until the state and federal governments invest in social and affordable housing these are the options available to councils trying to support their communities.

Before considering any regulatory action, however, the Council is writing to the shire’s 8,500 non-resident ratepayers this week, asking owners to consider putting their holiday home into the local rental market for the next 12 to 24 months “while the government’s longer-term solutions have time to work.”

“We did this after the 2019/20 bushfires and more than 80 homes were placed into the market. If people can repeat that generosity, it would be a significant help,” Mayor Hatcher said.

Meanwhile the Council has also arranged for mobile shower units to arrive at North Head Moruya campground next week. More than 50 people, including working families, are living at the campground because they can’t find affordable rental accommodation. Mayor Hatcher said the mobile units will provide hot showers over the winter months while longer term options are considered.

Community halls will not be opened up for shelter after the Council took advice from local agencies and peak body Homelessness NSW that the approach is unsafe for people already vulnerable.

Longer-term solutions that would see the Council providing 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 continue to be explored.

Information is also being compiled to help residents consider whether a tiny home or caravan in their backyard is feasible.

Mayor Hatcher said discussions with Council staff, agencies, and local MPs have been extremely positive, and he’s buoyed by the community’s support.

“Residents understand the housing crisis is not something their local council can fix, but we can certainly do our best to support each other while the state and federal government do what needs doing, and that is build more social and affordable housing.”