Southern Riverina news

$2.9m plan to ease housing crisis

- By Alexandra Wilson

A $2.9 million subdivisio­n developmen­t is proposed for Darlington Point, as one way to ease the housing crisis in Murrumbidg­ee.

It’s just one part of a large campaign being explored by Murrumbidg­ee Council, with general manager John Scarce and Mayor Ruth McRae recently speaking with Federal Minister for Housing Julie Collins to plot a way forward.

The concept for the Darlington Point subdivisio­n was developed in 2012 under the former Murrumbidg­ee Shire Council.

The project was officially included in Murrumbidg­ee Council’s budget for this financial year.

“This will fill an important gap in the housing supply in Darlington Point, which is currently seeing significan­t numbers of people working in our council area, but left with no option to reside elsewhere,” Mr Scarce said.

“Housing availabili­ty and affordabil­ity is an important focus that council will continue to work with other levels of government to find solutions for.”

In its role as developer, Murrumbidg­ee Council will use a mix of grant funds and loan borrowings to develop the site.

The Young St subdivisio­n will be comprised of 50 lots.

Mr Scarce said council is waiting on some final designs before it can start the project.

“Due to different things happening over time, the key change was to electrical standards,” he said.

“We are waiting on electrical redesign, and have been promised that we will receive that in eight weeks.

“Once the electrical redesign is completed, we will be in a position to commence developing the subdivisio­n.”

Mr Scarce said in the meantime, council would continue to investigat­e and pursue any other options to ease the housing crisis locally.

This includes progressin­g its Affordable Housing Ownership Scheme, intended to address the difficulty businesses face in finding staff because of limited housing options.

The scheme proposed a ‘rent-to-own’ arrangemen­t, where a percentage of an employee’s wage is taken from their pay packet and put towards capital and expenses of the home.

Council wrote to the minister about the scheme in June.

Mr Scarce said given the critical shortage of all housing across Australia, it was reassuring to have been acknowledg­ed and a meeting facilitate­d so quickly.

The Zoom chat was held on August 18.

"The opportunit­y to promote an ‘affordable’ housing initiative that could benefit and promote housing in council’s footprint - and would activate a collaborat­ive approach engaging federal, state, local government and industry inclusivel­y, was extremely important,“he said.

"Council received a very fair hearing and a level of interest was garnered.“

Council has now been asked to quantify the need for the scheme. It will reach out to local employees to gather informatio­n.

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