Richmond Valley candidates talk housing

Susanna Freymark

We asked the 18 candidates running for Richmond Valley Council about the rental housing shortage in our region?
There is no simple answer to this nationwide issue, read what your councillors of the future say.
We asked:
What can council doing to alleviate the shortage of rentals in our LGA?
Portia Walker-Fernando: Let’s look at more suitable and affordable housing for the communities. Firstly, supporting the community in more transitional accommodation and supporting those who are in hardships including homelessness, domestic and family violence, disability and youth. Also, how could we invest in lower to medium rise apartments that may be able to house more people and that are affordable for more to access and increase access to accommodation.
Ted Hoddinott: Because Casino is now a ‘jobs precinct’, I think it’s imperative that affordable housing is available to expedite the job growth target inherent in the plan. Similar plans and strategies in other communities in Richmond Valley need to be developed also. Both NSW and federal governments need to work with councils to implement the rollout for affordable safe housing.
Robert Hayes: This has become a statewide epidemic and needs to be addressed by state and federal governments. If re-elected I would encourage council to lobby these tiers of government for a solution to the problem in our area. Any support required by council needs to be a priority.
Michele Yates: Council needs a strategic plan. I held a housing forum in Evans Head in 2016 and we concluded that the housing shortage would impact into the future. That forum was attended by council employees, North Coast Community Housing, local real estate agents and nothing came of it  Now five years later, it’s time to formulate a Housing Strategy for RVC that can have positive outcomes for all residents.
Trudy Lamont: More funding for social housing/infrastructure, better zoning, speeding up the planning processes & reducing duplication where opportunities are time critical. Encouraging accommodation design that’s suited to multi-generational families (eg. dual occupancy/granny flats). Greater availability of more diverse, fit-for-purpose smaller housing (1 or 2 bedroom) close to amenities to free up the family-sized homes by allowing older residents to downsize adequately.
Louise Wicks: The housing crisis is impacting the entire country and is unfortunately not something that can simply be dealt with at a local government level. Local government bodies should be looking to work with state and national government proposals to alleviate the crisis.
Neale Genge: Council should be looking towards and working with other stakeholders towards the development of land for residential housing.  We have vast tracts of land within the Richmond Valley which could accommodate additional housing.  Areas such as Rappville and other villages could be further developed to provide homes and population growth for these villages assisting their long-term survival.
Jacob Dhnaram: It starts with leadership and a team that really cares about this issue for the long term and especially for our future generations. A future proof affordable housing plan need to be established before we enter a deep depth of a housing affordability crisis.
Daniel Simpson: Unfortunately, this is a national problem, in my view, the best approach for council is to firstly, ensure our future plans contain enough availability of correctly zoned land, and secondly ensure our development assessors are easy to deal with and help facilitate solutions to problems so that we are able to attract projects that help facilitate additional housing supply.
Peter Nielsen: It’s important we address the serious problem of the shortage of rental homes. We need discussions with non-government organisations to identify solutions and collaboration with state and federal governments to establish some funding as a matter of urgency. I’d encourage council to set aside suitable land for building  affordable,  small-scale developments of energy efficient, apartments and duplex buildings surrounding small parks.
Patrick Deegan: Leadership from council is required. A few new houses here and there is not the answer. A robust council wide housing plan involving all stakeholders needs to be developed, to provide long term planning and immediate action. There are not enough one and two bedroom homes, incentives need to be provided for more properties of this type to be built.
Robert Mustow: Recently I attended the sod turning in Casino of nine units which is a joint project between North Coast Community Housing and the state government, there needs to more of these ventures occurring.  Also, if the planning process and regulations were made more streamline by the government this would make it much easier to build, increasing the supply chain.
Jill Lyons: The shortage of rentals is a serious problem that needs all levels of government in collaboration with real estate agents to work together to come up with solutions. Finding land to build affordable energy efficient housing like duplexes, units or small houses is something council will need to continue working on along with researching the best ways to build this type of housing efficiently and sustainably.
Robyn Kapeen: Supply chain disruptions in the past year have pushed prices for building materials higher, and as pandemic-induced demand soared, prices for land increased as well. We need to develop partnerships among health and social service providers and organisations working to end homelessness to provide more support services. Expanding local outreach to help identify homeless populations and connect them with care.
Sandra Humphrys: This issue will require commitment at all levels of government. The proposed rezoning of land earlier this year was – in good faith – aimed at creating more residential blocks. An Urban Growth Strategy is currently looking into more suitable land releases and provision of different housing types.   Council has been working with developers to progress subdivision proposals in Casino, Broadwater and Riley’s Hill.

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