NSW MINISTERS ‘TALK’ HOUSING FOR ALL
On 15 July this year, the Federal Minister Julie Collins put out a message: “On my way to Melbourne this morning to host a meeting of Australia’s Housing Ministers – the first of its kind in almost 5 years. It’s crucial we’re working together to address Australia’s housing challenges and I look forward to discussing solutions.” The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rachel Clun reported Minister Collins as saying: “All the state and territory ministers I’ve spoken to realise the seriousness of the situation. I think we all feel that there’s no time for politics, this is the time for people to work together.” Present at the meeting of Ministers was NSW Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes, the Hon. Anthony Roberts.
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SOCIAL HOUSING – LET’S LOOK TO VIENNA:
In 2020, in the Austrian capital, Vienna’s municipal housing celebrated its 100th anniversary. To this day, it remains true to its mission of providing affordable, high-quality dwellings for broad strata of the population.
By 1918, Vienna’s population had risen to over two million, leading to unacceptably poor living conditions for the working class. Many people lived in “Bassena” flats – dwellings composed of just one room and a kitchen, with the kitchen only receiving light and ventilation from the corridor, and one single water faucet (called “Bassena”) as well as one toilet per floor. These often-overcrowded quarters were additionally used by around 170,000 “bed lodgers” – who used a bed certain hours of a day, sleeping in shifts – and roomers. The unhealthy living conditions favoured the outbreak of epidemics like tuberculosis, which was in fact referred to as “the Viennese disease”.
After the First World War, a rent cap (“Friedenszins”, or “peace-rent”) was introduced to enable the population to afford their dwellings in the post war period. However, as a result, no ‘roomers’ were taken in anymore, which made it even more difficult for the lowest-income groups to find accommodation.
Kathrin Gaál, Vice-Mayor and Executive City Councillor for Housing, Housing Construction, Urban Renewal and Women’s Issues of the City of Vienna writes: “The right to housing is a human right (Articles 16 and 31 of the European Social Charter).”
Karin Ramser, Director City of Vienna: “Since the launch of Vienna’s first ever social housing programme, people’s expectations and requirements of their living space have changed a lot. All over the world, the Vienna model of social housing is regarded as a model of success. It is thus hardly surprising that the interest of international experts in Vienna’s housing sector has greatly increased.”
Austrian-born architect Harry Seidler AC OBE was the first architect to fully express the principles of the Bauhaus in Australia. Quoting Harry Seidler & Associates:
“Commissioned by the City Government of Vienna, this subsidised social housing community follows the city’s building tradition dating back to the 1920’s. It is built along the Danube on a structure spanning up to 27 metres across an eight lane expressway.
The housing blocks are placed diagonally over the covering, thereby distributing their load and affording virtually all of the 850 apartments a water view from their living rooms and balconies*. View corridors are planned through the scheme to benefit the existing three residential towers further inland. The buildings step down toward the river, creating roof top terrace apartments. Ground floor units have wall- enclosed private gardens especially suited to families with small children. Most of the apartments are 75 m2 two bedroom units. Three bedroom apartments are 90 m2, one bedroom units 54 m2 and rooftop terrace apartments 130 m2. Photos of this remarkable development are HERE.
* The City of Sydney has approved an expanded footprint for 1 Alfred Street at Circular Quay, on the site of the former Goldfields House. Residents housed in north-facing apartments in Harry Seidler’s nearby Cove Apartments will soon lose valuable quay/water views.
Today, approximately 500,000 people live in Vienna’s municipal housing estates. This makes the City of Vienna the biggest municipal housing provider in Europe. Wiener Wohnen administers and manages more than 220,000 flats and approximately 1,800 housing estates in the Austrian capital.
In addition to the construction of new dwellings and the refurbishment of older ones, its tasks also include the upkeep and maintenance of green areas, interior courtyards, playgrounds, laundries and communal premises for hobbies, sports and leisure activities.
During October, a delegation of working-class tenants and homeless New Yorkers have been invited to the Austrian capital, Vienna, to study the City's historic social housing program. They will meet with labour union organisers, City Planners, tenants' unions, and more: those who are working to sustain and expand the city's social housing stock -- but also those who are fighting against the racism, exclusion, and white supremacy that is present in their system.
The New York delegation includes:
Winsome Pendergrass, a domestic worker and tenant organiser who joined the housing justice movement when she was evicted in 2018,
Fannie Lou Dianne, a formerly homeless organiser who is fighting source of income discrimination and housing injustice -- in particular, how it impacts women of colour,
Dorca Reynoso, an unregulated renter who is facing a 100% rent hike.
The group will also be joined by New York State organisers who are working to expand social housing in New York. An Action Network fundraiser has been set up to Send Tenants & Homeless New Yorkers to Vienna. The link can be found HERE.
One can easily guess which scofflaw booking platform refused to remove or block illegal listings in Vienna’s social housing. Indeed, Airbnb suggested that the City of Vienna sue them in Ireland. Fortunately, Vienna triumphed, after years of legal battles. See HERE.
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Yesterday, on an Airbnb Hosts Australia ‘closed’ Facebook page, one Airbnb landlord posted: “STR insurance in Qld, Youi just quoted $21k pa.”
If other Insurance providers were to follow suit and charge $21,000/year to insure all Airbnb-type rentals, perhaps THAT might convince some of those profiteering from the commercial use of homes to place their dwellings back onto the housing market!
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LET’S TALK SERIOUSLY ABOUT HOUSING IN NSW:
In 2016, Mark Coure MP, Member for Oatley, chaired a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Adequacy of regulation of short-term holiday letting in NSW. The Deputy Chair was Geoff Provest MP, Member for Tweed. Coure and Provest were front-and-centre, personally welcoming Airbnb staffers and landlords during the inquiry. The photograph of the group on the steps of Parliament House appears to have been removed from the Airbnb ‘newsroom’ page. Indeed, the two MPs also showed ‘enthusiastic collegiality’ towards those from the short-term rental industry who were permitted to address the Members of the Parliamentary Inquiry. Provest frequently cheered in the hearing room: “Short-term rentals are here to stay!” Soon after the Inquiry concluded, and following a sponsorship deal between Airbnb and the Sydney Opera House Trust, Provest was granted the privilege of scaling the sails of the Opera House.
In his report, Coure recommended that the NSW Government amend a) The Standard Instrument - Principal Local Environment Plan to include a definition of short-term rental accommodation in the category of tourist and visitor accommodation, and b) The State Environmental Planning Policy [SEPP] (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 to allow short-term rental accommodation. And of course, last year Rob Stokes MP used ministerial discretion to alter our SEPP – short-term rental accommodation is now complying development state-wide.
The subsequent ‘Options Paper’ by Anthony Roberts MP, Minister for Planning and Housing, and Matt Kean MP, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, set in play the pathway by which Airbnb-type rentals would be legislated as ‘complying development’, noting: In 2014, there were an estimated 216,000 short-term holiday letting premises in NSW/ACT.
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WHERE ARE THESE MINISTERS NOW, ON HOUSING IN NSW:
NSW - $35 MILLION FOR 106 NEW UNITS: On 3 August, a NSW Government release: “Single women over 55 are one of the fastest growing groups of people seeking housing assistance in NSW. They can be at risk of homelessness for many reasons including separation, domestic violence, health issues or retirement,” Minister Roberts said. “We know the stigma of being homeless can mean people sleeping rough feel too embarrassed or ashamed to reach out for assistance,” Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC said…The complex, with nine units is at Peakhurst, in the electorate of Oatley.
The State Member for Oatley, Liberal Mark Coure MP, said the new housing complex would provide safe accommodation to women across the local area who are or at risk of becoming homeless: “This initiative goes the heart of the NSW Government’s want to ensure no one is left behind. Homelessness is an issue which can affect anyone for any number of reasons and this new complex will help to provide a safe and secure environment for vulnerable older women so that they can get back on their feet.” The NSW Government is investing $35 million towards the program, which will see the construction of safe accommodation across 9 Sydney LGAs, delivering 106 new units for women who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.
NSW - $60 MILLION FOR 150 NEW HOMES: On 7 September, the NSW Government’s Land and Housing Corporation issued a statement: “$60 million social housing boost for Newcastle – (a) pipeline of almost 150 new homes is set to be delivered by people in need across Newcastle…Anthony Roberts said the projects reflect the NSW Government’s commitment to delivering social housing for the region.” The City of Newcastle Council – ie, ratepayers – is “committing $6 million towards the delivery of social housing in their LGA. Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, said, “Tackling homelessness is one of the Government’s priorities. We are investing $17.2 million in homelessness services in the Hunter district, with $9.9 million of this being invested in the Port Stephens and Newcastle areas.”
The State Member for Newcastle, Labor’s Tim Crankantorp MP, appears not to have been present at the announcement.
A note from us for Anthony Roberts and Natasha Maclaren-Jones: Newcastle-based Alloggio, alone, currently has 580 NSW homes operating as commercial holiday/tourist rentals
NSW - $12 MILLION FOR 40 NEW DWELLINGS - On 16 September, a NSW Government release: $12 million social housing boost for Tweed – ‘More people in Tweed Heads have a safe place to call home thanks to a $12 million investment by the NSW Government that will provide 40 new social housing dwellings in the region’.
The State Member for Tweed, Nationals Geoff Provest said the new seven-storey building…was important to address housing needs in the flood-affected region.” (The Department of Planning, under Land and Housing Corporation, also issued a release on the same date.)
A note from us for Anthony Roberts and Geoff Provest: The Tweed Shire Local Government Area, as of 14 September, had lost 1,977 homes to Airbnb alone (InsideAirbnb)
NSW - $6 MILLION FOR 18 NEW HOMES - On 30 September, a NSW Government release: $6 million social housing delivery for Maitland – the completion of 18 new homes at East Maitland will provide permanent housing for more than 20 people in need, as the NSW Government continues to deliver more social housing across the Hunter. “Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the projects show the NSW Government’s commitment to helping more people in need secure a home.”
The State Member for Maitland, Labor’s Jenny Aitchison MP, appears not to have been present at the announcement.
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NSW Hansard shows that on 23 March 2022, in the Legislative Council, Greens MLC Justin Field, moved a motion: “That, under Standing Order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 21 days of the date of passing of this motion the following documents created since 1 January 2020 relating to Friendlyjordies, Jordan Shanks or Kristo Langker…”. The Motion was ‘welcomed’, ‘agreed to’ and passed.
Of course, the documents listed all related to the former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, the NSW Police Force, Strike Force Wyargine, and all documents relating to Friendlyjordies YouTube channel, Jordan Shanks, or his producer Kristo Langker.
In early March 2022 the NSW Police Force dropped all charges against Kristo Langker. And the role of the fixated persons unit had been raised “in this place and in budget estimates hearings”. The police dropped all chargers “after the resignation of the Deputy Premier. This had followed what became evident: that Kristo and Jordan had been monitored “for many months”.
“The Local Court ordered the NSW Police Force to pay $12,000 in legal costs to Mr Langker's lawyer.
The 21-day period is long past. And despite the passing of this motion in the upper house of State Parliament, there is no further record in Hansard that the documents mentioned have been presented. One wonders: “Why not?”
Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones #Right2Housing People before Profits
Neighbours not Strangers