Af­ford­able hous­ing? Not in Cam­bridge

Cambridge Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE BAIN

More peo­ple are be­ing forced to leave Cam­bridge as the cost of ac­com­mo­da­tion, up to 70 per cent of a weekly wage, con­tin­ues to es­ca­late.

A look at the rental mar­ket showed three bed­room homes be­tween $360 and $430 per week while a four bed­room home was around $550.

Cam­bridge Sal­va­tion Army Cap­tain Karen Baker worked with fam­i­lies who could no longer af­ford rental ac­commo- da­tion. She said the high cost of hous­ing loomed as a ma­jor prob­lem for the town and it was a view shared by oth­ers work­ing in Cam­bridge’s so­cial ser­vices.

Baker re­cently worked with a per­son who had to move out of town be­cause their rent had al­most dou­bled.

‘‘We see peo­ple, in­clud­ing those who are work­ing, pay­ing al­most 70 per cent of their in­come just on rent. There’s very lit­tle left for food and power. We’re help­ing peo­ple with food and other prac­ti­cal sup­port while they get things sorted, but ul­ti­mately we need some­thing to take the pres­sure off rents.’’

Cam­bridge Com­mit­tee of So­cial Ser­vices act­ing chair­per­son, Julie Epps, said costs for rentals and to buy homes had in­creased ex­po­nen­tially over the past two years.

She said ac­cord­ing to Age Con­cern’s re­search on Cam­bridge hous­ing, the cost of own­ing an av­er­age house in the Waipa district had in­creased 59.4 per cent since 2014.

Rent­ing a two bed­room flat in­creased by nearly 62 per cent and a three bed­room house by 34 per cent.

‘‘On av­er­age, a new home is built ev­ery day in Cam­bridge but none as so­cial or af­ford­able hous­ing,’’ Epps said.

She was wor­ried about the pre­dicted in­crease in peo­ple mov­ing into the district, as well as the el­derly age group, on fixed in­comes, who would not be able to meet mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions.

‘‘Much gets made of pop­u­la­tion growth, but there was no men­tion of a coun­cil-backed pol- icy to en­sure a suit­able range of hous­ing avail­able. There is pro­vi­sion for new hous­ing which is mar­ket driven for those who can af­ford to buy.’’

In its sub­mis­sion to the Waipa District Coun­cil 10-year plan, the com­mit­tee asked the coun­cil to find more land for af­ford­able and so­cial hous­ing de­vel­op­ment. The coun­cil re­sponded and said it was aware of the con­cerns and was sym­pa­thetic. It would con­tinue to work through options around af­ford­able hous­ing.

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