The Federation and Indigo Shire councils are among a growing number of communities in the NSW and Victoria region struggling with an unprecedented housing crisis as demand for housing outstrips supply.
The lack of affordable housing in the region is widely attributed to the exodus of people from big cities during the pandemic, combined with more people choosing to stay in the regions, rising real estate prices and owners who choose to sell their rentals or convert them to Airbnb.
Adding to the pressure are the lowest vacancy rates currently at around 0.7% and the rising cost of renting a home. According to the latest Estate Rental Report, home rents in the Federation jumped $60 (19.4% increase) in just 12 months, from December 2020 to December 2021.
For the same period in Indigo, house rents only increased by $38 (10.9% increase) year-over-year.
Meanwhile, according to the latest Domain House Price report, home prices across the country have experienced the highest annual growth rate on record, at 33.1%, creating a significant financial barrier for first-time buyers.
In the Federation, home prices from December 2020 to December 2021 increased by 31.7%, with the median home price valued at $415,000. In Indigo, the median home price is $560,000, up from $470,000 in 2020.
A recent Victoria Rural Councils housing report shows that Region Victoria needs more than 87,400 new homes over the next 15 years to tackle the housing crisis.
The report also highlights how the low housing stock creates a barrier for the labor needed in regional and rural areas. When workers have nowhere to stay, it leads to job shortages and consequently has a negative impact on the region’s economy, preventing a strong post-COVID recovery.
“Housing shortages have a significant negative impact on rural communities – including lost jobs and lost opportunities – ranging from $200 million per year to $1 billion per year in lost gross regional product in rural areas of Victoria,” said Victoria’s Rural Council Chair, Cr Mary-Ann. said Brown.
“The most affected sectors would be agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, construction, education and training and the leasing, hiring and real estate industries. But all sectors would be negatively impacted.
Cr Mary-Ann Brown said last week’s federal budget proved disappointing for people in rural Victoria.
‘Unfortunately the budget did nothing significant new for rural Victoria,’ she said.
“The latest statistics from the ABS show that there has been a big shift to rural and regional areas in metropolitan Melbourne.
“It’s great to finally see population growth in rural Victoria, but we need the federal government to provide resources to deal with the additional pressure that population growth is putting on rural and regional infrastructure. »
The chronic shortage of social and affordable housing is also driving record levels of homelessness according to Amaranth Foundation Founder and CEO Julianne Whyte OAM.
While Amaranth provides emergency respite and short-term accommodation, the surge in homelessness has overwhelmed the resources Amaranth is able to provide with very limited financial assistance from all three levels of government.
“We get four to six referrals for homelessness and assistance,” Ms Whyte said.
“The number of people who have passed through our doors since last September is enormous. We have a huge waiting list of people we just can’t provide accommodation for.
“We have young children on the streets fleeing domestic violence who have nowhere to go. Luckily we have good contacts so we can call places like Beyond Housing who can offer something quickly, but it can take up to five hours just to arrange someone to find suitable emergency accommodation. The work we do to help them is not funded either.
A big concern for Ms. Whyte and the Amaranth team is the rise of Airbnb as a form of income for some residents impacting the supply of long-term rentals in the community. By limiting the number of long-term rental units, Airbnb increases the cost of rents overall.
“Airbnbs are popping up everywhere. It’s causing a lot of heartache, especially for vulnerable people who are left in situations they shouldn’t.”
Housing affordability is likely to remain an issue for low-income people in the region, with St Vincent de Paul noting that neither the federal budget nor the opposition budget proposal announced last week adequately addressed the housing crisis. housing in the regions.
Saint Vincent de Paul Nation President Claire Victory welcomed efforts to address cost-of-living pressures, but expressed concern about “quick fixes that won’t get 774,000 Australian children out of poverty and will not help families in difficulty”.
“Housing is a major issue – despite a $17.9 billion commitment to infrastructure, there is no focus on the country’s housing crisis, which the government’s own 2021 National Infrastructure Plan has identified as requiring a lot more investment,” Ms. Victory said.
“As our members across Australia are well aware, cost of living pressures are rising rapidly. Providing healthy food, paying rent and utility bills and putting petrol in the car have a disproportionate impact about people who are already struggling on a daily basis.
Last Wednesday, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) released a suite of solutions to increase the supply of more affordable and appropriate housing across regional Australia to meet current and future demand.
Among the solutions were a proposed regional guarantee for new home loans, incentives for regional traders, easing restrictions on relocatable homes, building more medium-density housing and social housing.
“We have different drivers and quite distinct regional housing markets. Responses must be tailored to meet the specific drivers of each regional housing market. Imposing the wrong policy response can make market failures worse,” said RAI CEO Liz Ritchie.
“While we welcome both the federal government’s budget commitments to address housing affordability in the regions as well as the opposition’s recent plan, these measures only address part of the puzzle.
“With over 70,000 regional vacancies, there is a widespread need for units, townhouses and apartments across regional Australia to accommodate single professionals and traders, as well as long-term residents seeking to reduce their workforce.
“State and local governments must work with developers and builders to ensure greater diversity in the housing stock so that new homes remain affordable.”