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The Merimbula News last month reported on how the plight of the homeless in the Bega Valley brought councillors to agreement on the need for housing action. “…homeless people sleeping rough in the streets, desperate families asking for help, and workers unable to accept a job in the Bega Valley because they can’t find a home, prompted agreement on a multilateral approach at the August 4 council meeting.” Greens Councillor Cath Griff formed and chaired a local affordable housing working group leading up to a consultancy and council action on the housing crisis. “Council has to come up with something concrete. This is recognised as a crisis situation. Regional Australia used to be an answer for affordable housing, now we’re steeped in the problem too.” (Cr Cathy Griff)

On 12 September we received an email from Cr Griff: “PLEASE REMOVE MY EMAIL ADDRESS FROM THIS LIST ASAP.” If it helps the Councillor with her critical work, we thought we’d take a look at some of the real estate agents in her local area and compare rentals available for residents with nightly holiday rentals. Perhaps a fellow councillor would be kind enough pass these figures onto Cr Griff, given that we have acted on her request to cease further correspondence with her:

Fisk & Nagle Bega – no homes available for lease, 26 holiday rentals

Whale Coast Realty – two homes available for lease, 113 holiday rentals

Tathra Beach Real Estate – no homes available for lease, 25 holiday rentals

Raine & Horne Merimbula – no homes available for lease, 34 holiday rentals

Merimbula Realty – two homes available for lease, 54 holiday rentals

Elders Real Estate – two homes available for lease, 15 holiday rentals

Marshall + Tacheci Real Estate – no homes available for lease, 41 holiday rentals

Ben Bate Real Estate – no homes available for lease, 21 holiday rentals

Hallmark Real Estate – one home currently available for lease, 47 holiday rentals

Take a look at your local newspaper, and who are the biggest advertisers? Real Estate Agents of course. Usually next-to-no criticism is ever levelled at short-term rental operators in such publications. One ‘standout’ – Byron Bay’s Echo. Their article today reports on the North Coast Regional Housing Taskforce, which was concerned about rental accommodation shortages. “It’s been made very clear to us that the prevalence of short-term rental accommodation is seriously aggravating that problem (housing affordability and availability) as well.” The Regional Housing Taskforce was due to deliver a preliminary report to planning minister Rob Stokes in September and another report with recommendations in October; reports would eventually be made public after Mr Stokes and others in the NSW government have seen them.

Woollahra Council has also blocked all correspondence from our email address. One of their high profile real estate agents, Di Jones Real Estate, is so very active in short-term rental management they have partnered with Airbnb property management groups Hometime for Sydney Metro properties, MadeComfy for Southern Highlands and Northern Beaches homes, and Central Coast Holidays for Forresters Beach through Wamberal, to Terrigal and North Avoca, Avoca Beach, Copacabana and McMasters Beach. Back in February of this year, the Woollahra Council area had lost 1,382 homes to Airbnb (figures supplied by Inside Airbnb), and there are currently 2,453 homes listed on the Stayz platform. Maybe a Councillor next door at Waverley Council - 4,737 and 2,385 homes lost to Airbnb and Stayz respectively - could have a chat with their neighbours at the New South Head Road chambers about the rampant “illegal use of premises”?

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has told CNN, “employees are going to drive the future, not employers” and that “travel will be back, bigger than ever after Covid restrictions are lifted”.

Given that NSW State legislation, fault of Planning Minister Rob Stokes, now permits the conversion of almost any type of home or structure into a holiday rental, there goes our housing, and there go our neighbourhoods and communities.

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


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