HIGH rent and low supply is causing a social and affordable housing crisis in Tamworth, with the fallout from COVID-19 only making the situation worse.
A lack of availability was already becoming an issue prior to 2020, but since the beginning of the pandemic it has worsened significantly.
A rapid increase in residents has put a squeeze on all housing markets in the region, but infrastructure has struggled to keep up.
Significant investment alone won't fix the problem according to Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson, who said a new strategy needs to be put into place to in order to solve the problem.
He said installing a new, detailed plan that would connect state government, local councils and social housing organisations is one of his highest priorities, and he is expecting some financial support to come from Tuesday's state budget.
"I want to make sure that in the budget there will be money for social housing, but also the planning minister Rob Stokes and deputy premier John Barilaro announced during the week a regional housing strategy, so I want to look at how we can tap into that," he said.
Homes North CEO Maree McKenzie agreed funding and further communication is needed, but isn't confident it will come anywhere close to being enough to fix the issue.
"I would hope it's there but I'm not optimistic it's going to go anywhere near supporting regional housing to the extent it needs," she said.
Due to Tamworth's rapid growth, she said about an extra 100 houses would be required, and it needed to be a mix of social and affordable homes scattered throughout the town, as governments no longer cluster social housing properties close together.
Tamworth Regional Council already has a scheme similar to what Mr Anderson is suggesting in place; the Tamworth Regional Affordable Housing Strategy was created in 2011.
However, Mr Anderson said a new, broader approach with support from the state government and in-depth planning would lead to better outcomes.
"I want to partner with local organisations in the Tamworth electorate and local councils from Tamworth, Walcha, Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains and look at some of the strategies we can put into place," he said.
"Councils will look at their Local Environment Plans and planning to look at what we can do to support them in looking at available lands and housing."
Given the space available, Mr Anderson said councils may need to look at purchasing or building properties which are four storeys high in order to meet the demand which currently exists.
Ms McKenzie said, if done right, a successful revamp of an old strategy, or introduction of a new one, could go a long way to capitalising on the current business and population boom in Tamworth.
"It's about ensuring that housing needs are keeping track with that economic development so the whole community can develop and can benefit from the economic opportunities," she said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: