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Home prices have soared since the start of the pandemic, as documented by many sources. Former UN specialist on housing, Leilani Farha has provided to the New Zealand Government 27 recommendations to address their housing crisis. Most, if not all of these recommendations can apply to us here in NSW. Ms Farha’s report recommends that nations adopt a human rights approach to housing policy. A new report was officially tabled at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva at the beginning of this month. It lists housing speculation, a lack of affordable housing options, limited protection for tenants, substandard housing, the absence of a human rights based housing strategy and a lack of adequate social housing or state subsidised housing as among the main causes of the current crisis. Ms Farha has also worked tirelessly and advocated against the destructive impacts of short-term tourist visitor platforms on the housing supply citing that housing has become a ‘speculative asset’ rather than a ‘home’. Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner, has welcomed the report and encourages local and state and federal governments to seriously consider the 27 recommendations made. Governments have “binding human rights and obligations to create conditions which permit everyone to enjoy a warm, dry, safe, accessible and affordable home…housing policies must address historic injustices and displacement.” Ms Farha also welcomes the phasing-in of healthy-homes standards and encourages governments to assist low-income homeowners with renovations to ensure that everyone can live in a home that meets World Health Organization standards. The 20-page report is here. Summary points are:

1) Acknowledge housing as a human right

2) Form a human rights-based housing strategy

3) Make the private sector accountable

4) Put a stop to evictions that result in homelessness

5) Support those who are struggling

6) Allow the Human Rights Commission to resolve disputes

7) Establish commissioners for indigenous and housing rights

8) An international watchdog

9) Stronger tenant protection associations

10) Improve efforts to ensure rentals are up to standard

11) Improve tenant security

12) Fill empty homes

13) Ensure benefits are sufficient

14) De-incentivise housing as an investment

15) Rent-to-buy

16) Alternative housing schemes for those who need it

17) Support indigenous housing

18) Build more houses

19) Reduce reliance on emergency accommodation

20) More inclusive policy

21) Zoning meets everyone’s housing needs

22) Adopt design standards (Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

23) Allow modifications to improve accessibility in existing rentals

24) Funding for accessible design

25) Do not punish homelessness

26) Better action and support in natural disasters

27) Better housing policy systems and data recording

In San Paulo, Brazil, the ‘anthill has been poked’. Thousands have taken to the streets in a march for housing rights. Alas, no such action here; those who have attempted to rally supporters have at times seen their efforts effectively and efficiently undermined. Spain has one of the most commercialised housing systems in the world. And their Government is making solidarity a crime, threatening housing advocates who are fighting evictions with time in jail. On 28 June, a tenants union leader in Barcelona and two tenants were brought to trial by the Public Prosecutor and now face three years imprisonment. Jamie Palomera, the unionist, and the two tenants had peacefully and successfully protested violations of the tenants’ right to housing, including exorbitant rent increases and uninhabitable housing conditions. A podcast on this topic can be heard here.

According to Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW CEO Michael Johnson, hotels are sitting empty, “with true occupancy rates in Sydney at less than two percent, while bills continue to roll in”. Speaking at Travel DAZE 2021 earlier this week, Airbnb’s Susan Wheeldon claimed travel agents already use Airbnb for corporate and leisure clients and that Airbnb ‘wants to forge stronger ties’ with the travel industry. Wheeldon: “We previously partnered with Flight Centre with their travel group to offer Airbnb accommodation to their business travellers, and we always welcome those partnership opportunities.” And while Airbnb doesn’t currently offer a commission model in place for agents, Wheeldon said it was “certainly something we’re looking at”. (Is everyone reading this media release happy with NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ commercialisation of his or her residential buildings and communities?) More comments from Airbnb’s Wheeldon are here.

Media is reporting that, in fact, Airbnb trails Expedia. Most of Expedia’s business in Australia flies under the Stayz banner, with Stayz’s corporate affairs director, Eacham Curry in the news in the last month bullying Councils in the Bega District, Noosa and the Sunshine Coast. At the same time, a Stayz property owner has been criticised for refusing to give a grieving mum back a $1,400 deposit after her teenage son died suddenly.

Pundits are saying that it may be up to the Dutch-based to pose the greater global challenge to Airbnb, rather than Expedia. has appointed Laura Houldsworth as managing director and vice president for the Asia Pacific region. “Houldsworth will play a critical role in driving business growth, strategy and operations across the region…(She) previously also held regional roles in BCD Travel and ABN Amro Private Banking.”

There isn’t a city, county or state in the US where a full-time minimum wage earner can afford a two-bedroom apartment. With the invasion of institutional investors and weak tenant protections this isn’t a surprise. Is it any different here in Australia? Platform Capitalism affects our cities and regional areas. A booking platform is “effectively a tool that facilitates profit accumulation”. Platform Capitalism…Airbnb’s Takeover + the Cities that Resist – hear the podcast.

Yes, Friendlyjordies has raised more than $1 million for legal costs against Deputy Premier John Barilaro. Jordan Shanks has filed a truth defence in his defamation case against the NSW Deputy Premier. “We will never forget this generosity,” Mr Shanks-Marovina said. “We have received more than 24,000 individual donations – that’s more people [than] who first voted John Barilaro into Parliament. We know the public is on our side in this battle.” Lawyer Mark Davis previously said the charges against Mr Shanks-Marovina and his producer Kristo Langker, who is a student at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, will be fought “as vigorously as possible”.

Would someone please ask John Barilaro who is funding his legal fees?

Barilaro became very angry today when asked by journalist Tom Connell whether he thinks it is OK to involve the ‘Fixated Persons Unit’ against journalists. #BarilaroBolsonaro is also trending on twitter this afternoon and one writes: “PorkBarrell’s daughter can’t follow the rules. A chip off the old block”, as the Deputy Premier’s daughter is fined for COVID breaches, twice.

Bookings at John Barilaro’s $5 million Airbnb are patchy at present, due no doubt to lockdown restrictions. They certainly pick up again in August through to the end of the year, at $1,850/night.

Byron Bay Locals report that a nurse at their Hospital who is doing COVID testing says that many give a Sydney address when attending. In one instance a child is claimed to have said that their Sydney school had shut and they were on holidays. “The mother tried to shut the child up. Escapees from the lockdown. Where are they staying? Airbnb!” Staff at the Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology in Byron Bay are also saying the same thing: “Lots of people coming in for COVID tests with Sydney addresses.”

#Right2Housing Homes not Hotels Communities not Transit Zones People before Profits

Neighbours not Strangers


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