Pictured: Lawrie McKinna (Chair, RDA Central Coast) leading Panel Session on demystifying the Central Coast’s current state of housing. Panel members included Larissa Llowarch (Business Manager, Key2 Realty), Scott McLachlan (CEO, Central Coast Local Health District), Mark Daniels (Planning and Development Manager, Borg Manufacturing) and Professor Michael Bowyer (Acting Dean, Central Coast University of Newcastle)
A collaboration between Business NSW, RDA Central Coast and Pacific Link Housing brought over 100 business leaders together at the inaugural Central Coast Housing Forum to discuss the impact of housing affordability gaps for the region.
The Housing Forum addressed how the lack of affordable housing supply is impacting economic growth across the region and unpacked the linkages between labour shortages and affordable housing.
Business NSW Senior Director Regions and Visitor Economy, Paula Martin, says the Coast’s housing shortage is inhibiting regional business growth and economic development.
“According to Business NSW’s Business Conditions Survey, business growth across the Central Coast is hampered by staff housing shortages.
“This Forum was host to some of the Central Coast’s largest employers, who spoke of ongoing difficulties in finding housing for prospective employees, restraining their ability to grow and meet consumer demand.
“We are also starting to see Central Coast businesses becoming less attractive to migrants, as they are put off by not having somewhere to live,” Ms Martin said.
RDA Central Coast, CEO and Director Regional Development, John Mouland, says a united regional voice is critical to help address the Central Coast’s affordable housing issues.
“This event has been the catalyst for a lot of behind-the-scenes collaboration to provide a unified voice to all levels of government on this critical issue.
“Too often, the messages on the main issues for the Central Coast are fragmented, so it was empowering to see our local leaders embrace the opportunities for partnerships to help solve this issue, as it’s too big for governments alone to fix,” Mr Mouland said.
Pacific Link Housing CEO, Ian Lynch, shared an evidence-based perspective from an organisation working on the frontline of affordable housing on the Central Coast.
“As the Central Coast’s largest community housing provider, Pacific Link Housing is very close to this problem, but to see some of our largest local employers from the health, manufacturing and university sectors participate in this Forum, really drives home how our affordable housing shortage has become a mainstream economic issue,” Mr Lynch said.
Local MPs and representatives from Central Coast Council, Darkingjung Aboriginal Land Council, government agencies and developers, were also in attendance at the Forum.
The cohort addressed problems and potential solutions including:
- The impact of housing shortages on recruitment and retention of staff.
- New housing models that provide affordability through innovations in financing and ownership types.
- The need for broad community support for solutions such as increased development of new infill medium density housing in appropriate locations.
- Increased monitoring of rent setting at affordable housing properties that have received planning concessions.
Panel Member Larissa Llowarch is Business Manager for Key2 Realty – the only social enterprise real estate agency operating on the Central Coast, summarised the severity of the Central Coast’s affordable housing problem:
“With the recent spike in rental rates, an analysis of our current rental listings found that just two out of 600 listings were affordable for people on very low incomes –– and none were suitable for working families.”
Pacific Link Housing, supported by Business NSW, and the RDA Central Coast will produce a ‘Statement of Affordable Housing on The Central Coast’, which will present a unified position, setting out the elements needed to see more affordable housing delivered on the Central Coast.