Simon Richardson: Low-Cost Housing Idea For Byron Shire

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Byron Shire mayor

Photo: Mr Richardson says the houses will be fully contained with solar, composting toilets, and their own water. (Photo courtesy Byron Shire Council)

The Byron Shire Mayor has announced he has a plan that will see “pop-up housing estates on council-owned land” to combat the rise of housing prices.

The hot real estate market of the mostly coastal electorate of Richmond has been pushing rental prices through the roof.

Tony Davies, from the region’s social development council, said in Tweed and Byron, more than 40 per-cent of low-income households were in “rental stress”.

“They are paying more than 30 per-cent and in some cases more than 50 or 60 up to 85 per-cent of their household income on rent,” Mr Davies said.

Simon Richardson, the Greens mayor of the Byron Shire, said he has a plan which would see pop-up housing estates on council-owned land.

“The housing that we’re working on costs between $50,000 and $80,000, not much bigger than a granny flat,” he said.

“That comes fully contained — solar, its own composting toilets, its own water so it is completely off-grid.

“It’s a flat-pack design so it can literally be up in a day or two, the people who would be on this site would be paying for the dwelling, not the land.

“We’re looking at roughly about $350 a week.”

“If we keep relying on a system that allows baby boomers to have five houses and Gen Xs to struggle to have their first, we are always going to deny the next generations housing that we enjoyed ourselves,” he said.

“So we have to look beyond the current system which has created the problem and this way [to] long leases, which is very European so it’s not Utopia.

“This is just trying to find solutions to what is a wicked problem.”

‘I don’t want to be a victim to this’

Rebecca de Gail, a single mum living in a rural cottage on the edge of the Byron Shire, said she had found peace there from an endless cycle of moving houses.

“I’ve moved 12 times in 11 years so I know what it’s like to have to maybe stay at a friend’s or camp for a month,” she said.

“And the choices I made to move, I’ve discovered have always been about money.

“The majority of the places in this area are out of my price range.”


Women in her kitchen

Photo: Rebecca de Gail lives in Byron Shire (ABC News: Elloise Farrow-Smith)

Ms de Gail said her circumstances created a myth about her suitability as a tenant.

“The stigmatisation that also starts to happen, ‘Gee, that’s a lot of moves, what are they doing wrong? Must be a bad tenant,'” she said.

Ms De Gail said after she turned up to one rental house inspection and found herself in a crowd of 60, she decided to begin attending housing forums to understand what was behind the local housing crisis.

“I didn’t want to be a victim to this and I still don’t,” she said.

“That’s when I started to meet people in worse situations than me, living in their car.

“I discovered apparently that it’s worse for women than it is for men.

“And that’s when I also started to learn that financial insecurity is at the core of homelessness, because it only takes one trigger for anyone for this cascade to begin.”

Source Article ABC News

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