What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing is housing that is appropriate for the needs of a range of households on low to moderate incomes. It is priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, education and medical care.

A common benchmark is housing that does not absorb more than 30% of the gross income of very low, low or moderate income households.

There are a range of reasons why anyone in our community might need affordable housing, for example:

  • young people seeking to live closer to educational institutions such as TAFE or university
  • recently separated people with children, who are now on a single income and can no longer stay in their family home
  • older people whose spouse has passed away and are on a reduced retirement income.
There is a common misconception that affordable housing refers only to social or community housing. This is not true - affordable housing is much more than this and a diverse mix of housing types is required to meet the needs of a diverse community.

When is housing affordable?

Affordable housing is housing that is appropriate for the needs of a range of households on low to moderate incomes.
It is priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, education and medical care.
A common benchmark is housing that does not absorb more than 30% of the gross income of very low, low or moderate income households.


What is social and community housing?

Social and community housing is government-subsidised housing and supported accommodation for people who cannot afford ordinary housing. Priority for social and community housing goes to those in greatest need.

On the Central Coast, the supply of social and community housing is much lower than in Greater Sydney and is declining. The current waiting list is 10+ years for all types in the former Wyong LGA and is anywhere from 5-10 years in the former Gosford LGA.


What is alternative housing?

Alternative housing is a contemporary approach to affordable housing. It produces a range of housing types such as affordable purchase, affordable rental, and community housing and temporary accommodation suitable for a variety of tenants such as seniors, students and the chronically ill.

Alternative housing is managed by a community housing provider who provides tenancy management as well as tailored support for their tenants. In some cases this could include an onsite caretaker, and programs and activities such as community gardens, literacy and numeracy support and social activities.

Alternative housing is developed according to locational criteria such as being well-located to public transport and close to services, shops and support networks. This allows tenants to easily access what they need.

Alternative housing adheres to a strict set of design guidelines that ensure the character of the neighborhood is maintained and that the floor space and facilities inside the homes are modern and efficient.


What is a New Generation Boarding House?

New Generation Boarding Houses (under SEPP Affordable Rental Housing 2009) can provide affordable accommodation to some very low income singles and couples, and all low and moderate income smaller households in the LGA, and are one of the most affordable types of accommodation in the local housing market context. When managed by a community housing provider, they are affordable to all very low income renters as well. They can also provide flexible and affordable accommodation to very low and low income key workers in hospitality, retail and community services.


What is housing stress?

If you are paying more than 30% of your gross income on housing needs, you are in housing stress. There are 24,200 households on the Central Coast in housing stress. It is estimated this will rise by another 7,000 in the next 20 years.

Housing stress has grown in response to rapidly rising prices for both purchase and rent. This is worsened by low incomes, lack of supply (one and two-bedroom homes) and in migration from lower incomes.  The most severely affected are people living alone or those with children.

If you are in housing stress, you are more likely than any other group to become homeless. Not surprisingly, there has been a 35% increase in homelessness over the past five years and up to 8,500 people are currently homeless on the Central Coast.

In 2016, there were around 24,200 households on the Central Coast in ‘housing stress’.  This equates to one in five households.


Who needs Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing is needed for people on moderate to low incomes. This means those households that earn $111,000 and below. It is priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, education and medical care.

There are a range of reasons why anyone in our community might need affordable housing, for example:

Young people seeking to live closer to educational institutions such as TAFE or university

Recently separated people with children, who are now on a single income and can no longer stay in their family home

Older people whose spouse has passed away and are on a reduced retirement income.


Why is it needed?

24,200 households on the Central Coast in ‘housing stress’: this equates to one in five households.

7,300 more in housing stress in less than 20 years: most of these will be singles or families with children.

35% increase in homelessness on the Central Coast from 2011 to 2016: up to 8,500 people are currently homeless.

Not enough housing options for people who need affordable private rental and social/ community housing.

A market snapshot (March 2018) showed that there was NOTHING affordable for very low income renters on the Central Coast.

11,000 older people (70+) in larger homes and affordable down-sizing options are limited (e.g. one or two-bedroom homes).

Less medium and higher density development on the Central Coast compared to Sydney: little or no proportional growth over the past decade.

No proportional growth in private rental stock in over 12 years with actual decline in the amount of social housing.

Pressure from the Sydney housing market causes inflated prices, less availability and limited opportunity to find a suitable home.


Why has an Affordable and Alternative Housing Strategy been developed?

Despite the historically lower than average cost of housing on the Central Coast, and the relatively diverse demographic profile, there is evidence that the area is becoming far less affordable for very low and low income households. Like other regional areas within reasonably close proximity to Sydney, the local housing market is facing increasing pressure, resulting in displacement of residents. These effects flow on to more marginal populations, significantly increasing housing stress, social vulnerability and homelessness, and affecting community and social wellbeing.

Who has been involved to date in the development of the draft Strategy?

The draft Strategy has been developed after extensive research and consultation with key stakeholders. Over 495 stakeholders have been engaged from support services, government and non-government agencies, community groups, church organisations and volunteer charities, developers, real estate agents, social enterprises and community housing providers.

‘One Central Coast’, the Coast’s Community Strategic Plan, also identifies affordable housing as a key focus area.

What are the key focus areas of the draft Central Coast Affordable and Alternative Housing Strategy?

The draft Strategy has been developed under three strategic themes:

• Affordable Housing Development and Management Partnerships – 4 recommended actions;

• Planning Mechanisms and Strategies to Increase the Supply of Affordable and Lower Cost Housing – 12 recommended actions.

• Prevention and Intervention to Reduce Homelessness – 7 recommended actions.

Some specific strategies outlined under each of these three themes necessarily overlap. For example, implementing ‘Housing First’ approaches to address homelessness will be far more feasible with an increase in the supply of appropriate private rental through relevant planning mechanisms, or if a component of housing developed on Council-owned land in a multi-tenure development partnership is ear-marked as Transitional Accommodation for formerly homeless people.

Additionally there are 4 general actions related to benchmarks, definitions, reporting and evaluation.


What are the key findings of the strategy?

  • Although the Central Coast has historically been an affordable area, a range of factors has made the area less affordable than Greater Sydney for local residents. We have higher rates of housing stress and larger increases in homelessness as well as most people who are marginally housed.
  • There is a limited range of diverse housing (1 bedroom and 2 bedroom) and of private rental and social housing which is having a significant impact upon housing affordability.
  • The proportion of medium and higher density development in the Local Government Area is much lower than the Greater Sydney average, and has experienced little or no proportional growth over the past decade.
  • There has been no proportional growth in private rental stock in the Local Government Area since 2006, and an actual decline in the amount of social housing since 2011.
  • The Sydney housing market has become so competitive that people are migrating to the Central Coast for more opportunity. This is placing significant pressure on the available stock of lower cost housing, and Central Coast residents are forced to compete in a market that is saturated.
  • In 2016, there were around 24,200 households in the Local Government Area who were in ‘housing stress’ (paying more than 30% of their gross household income on housing costs).
  • It is projected that an additional 7,000 households will be in housing stress by 2036. Of these, 60% are expected to be smaller households (lone persons and couples) and 40% families with children.
  • There has been a 35% increase in homelessness in the Central Coast from 2011 to 2016. At present it is estimated that anywhere from 4,100 to 8,500 people were homeless or marginally housed in the past 12 months.