Solutions sought on nurses’ housing
The NSWNMA is pushing for an affordable housing development levy, charged to developers in the City of Sydney, to be extended to five other local government areas.
The NSWNMA is working on a number of fronts to tackle the growing problem of housing affordability for nurses.
These initiatives aim to link nurses on moderate incomes to high quality housing developments at below market rents.
At our last two annual conferences, members passed resolutions asking the NSWNMA to lobby government to improve renters’ rights, rental security and affordability, and to work with councils and community groups to work towards solutions to the housing affordability crisis in NSW.
NSWNMA Acting General Secretary Judith Kiejda says the NSWNMA has been acting on these resolutions.
Earlier this year the Association wrote a submission to the NSW government supporting a plan to expand an affordable housing development levy charged to developers in the City of Sydney area to five more local government areas.
It has also been working to link nurses and midwives up to housing providers such as City West Housing that rent properties fixed at 25 per cent to 30 per cent of a tenant’s income.
As well, the Association has also been working closely with NSW Federation of Housing Associations, an organisation which represents community housing providers and advocates for greater government support of community housing.
“The demand for health workers is growing all the time, and new developments such as the Northern Beaches Hospital will only add to the need for nurses in areas where housing has become increasingly unaffordable,” said Judith.
A recent analysis of census data conducted by The Sydney Morning Herald found that, on average, nurses live 27 km from the CBD. While Randwick is home to the largest group of nurses and midwives (628), large numbers of nurses are also living in areas further from the CBD, such as Blacktown, Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill.
The health and social assistance sectors are the biggest employers in NSW, accounting for one in eight jobs, but wages in the sector aren’t keeping up with the increasingly high cost of housing, Judith said.
“Last year we conducted a survey of members and found that 36 per cent have changed jobs and relocated because of housing affordability. Almost half of the members who responded to the survey indicated they are prepared to change jobs to live in a more affordable area.”
Community housing is not a hand out
Wendy Hayhurst, the CEO of the NSW Federation of Housing Associations told The Lamp that while community housing in Australia was still “relatively small in scale compared to some other countries”, the organisations they work with provide homes of high quality.
“It just looks like ordinary housing and is often in developments where other tenants own or pay market rental rates.”
“It is not a hand out. It is the kind of housing that should be available for different points of your life, for example when you are a woman who suffers a relationship breakdown or retires from work.”
Wendy says government needs to “see housing as something that is important as transport, and put money into subsidising building so rents can be lower for a wide range of workers, including nurses and midwives”.
Government needs to support infrastructure for workers who have “skills that are in demand that they can take elsewhere,” she added.
Wendy says that by 2020 the stock of community housing will increase by 2,700 new homes across NSW. This will add to the 38,000 community housing properties currently owned and managed by registered providers.
Judith says the NSWNMA will continue to work closely with providers such as City West Housing and advocacy group’s such as NSW Federation of Housing Associations to ensure that nurses have access to many of these properties.
What does social, community and affordable housing mean?
The terms ‘social’, ‘community’ and ‘affordable’ housing are often confused and are sometimes used interchangeably, but they usually mean different things.
Housing is generally considered to be affordable if the household members are not in housing stress after they have paid for their housing, irrespective of whether they are renting or buying.
There are a number of measures of affordability. One of the most widely used is that a low-income or moderate-income household should not pay more than 30 per cent of their gross income on housing.
Affordable rental housing is rental housing and refers to a form of housing for low–moderate income households where the rent is set at a proportion (e.g. 75 per cent or 80 per cent) of the rent that would normally be charged for the property in the private rental market.
This distinguishes it from social housing which is targeted to very low-income households and where the rent is usually set as a proportion of the tenant’s income.
Community housing provides affordable rental housing to people on low to moderate incomes.
In some developments, community housing can exist alongside properties where tenants own or pay market rent, and the community properties will look indistinguishable from these other kinds of properties.
Community housing can cater to a range of different people, from those with high needs, to people on moderate incomes.
A ‘moderate income’ can be defined as anything up to 120 per cent of the median income.
For more information visit: https://shelternsw.org.au/
Tell us your housing story
We want to hear from nurses and midwives about how the cost of housing is impacting on you personally and how it affects your professional roles.
Send your story to: email@example.com