ALMOST 10 per cent of the region’s renters find it difficult to meet their weekly payments – and that’s if they’re fortunate enough to even find somewhere to rent in the first place.
A parliamentary committee will be in Tamworth this afternoon as part of its inquiry into social, public and affordable housing, an issue its chairman describes as one of the most pressing problems for NSW, and indeed the nation, in the future.
MLC Paul Green said the issues around affordable housing differed between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, making the committee’s visits to regional centres vital.
Aside from Tamworth, they have already been to Wollongong, Nowra and Port Macquarie and will travel to Dubbo on Wednesday.
The availability of public transport, the mining industry’s upward influence on rental costs and a smaller pool of housing were some of the issues specific to the regions, he said.
Mr Green said there were 55,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in NSW and another 135,000 on less urgent lists, statistics the state could not afford to ignore.
“We’re confident our report will contain recommendations for real change ... but this is something that needs action at all levels of government: federal, state and local,” Mr Green said.
“We need to all work together because the social implications in the future are enormous.”
Many communities across the region have reported problems with affordable housing and a number of councils will be represented at today’s hearing in Tamworth, including Gunnedah, Narrabri and Liverpool Plains shire councils.
In research presented to the inquiry with a region-by-region analysis of rental stress, the NSW average stands at 11 per cent, with the New England, North West standing at almost 10 per cent, one of the highest rates in the state.
Mr Green said in terms of encouraging regional decentralisation, access to affordable housing was one of the make or break issues.
“When people are looking at making a move, accommodation is one of the biggest considerations,” he said.
“There’s no point getting somewhere and saying ‘well, I have a job but nowhere to live’.”
The inquiry will hold the public hearing at the Best Western Sanctuary Inn from 2.45pm to 5.30pm.