Hoping to ease the South Coast’s ongoing housing crisis, Eurobodalla Shire Council sent 8000 letters to residents a few months ago urging them to rent out their holiday homes.
Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Mathew Hatcher said one resident responding to the mailout would have been “an accomplishment”.
But council received more than 80 phone calls and a mix of responses – from thankful residents recognising efforts to avert the crisis to others offering their homes to the rental market.
Now more than 30 property owners have told staff they intend to or already have placed their secondary property in the rental market.
Ten callers specifically asked to rent their property via a social housing agency and they have been directed to the local team at the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.
“I’ve been blown away with the response,” Mayor Hatcher said. “A simple letter has brought people together to help each other out.”
Despite the show of support, Mayor Hatcher has urged the State Government to provide much-needed assistance.
“We’re in a crisis and the community is suffering,” he said.
“We’ve had the bushfires, we’ve had 10 declared natural disasters in our shelters since then, and we’ve gone through a pandemic.
“Enough is enough. We’ve got to be more agile as a government and look after the community. Our priorities should always be community first.”
Mayor Hatcher said the council had spoken to several South Coast real estate agents who saw an increase in supply come into the market.
About 7500 of the letters sent out went to Sydney and Canberra residents.
“We had a woman from Canberra who called us and said she wanted to put her house on the market as she wanted to help the region,” he said. “So we pushed it to a real estate agent and they told her they could give her $600 a week for the house.
“She came back to us and said ‘that’s not what I’m wanting to do, I’m not trying to make money out of this, I just want to help someone’.
“So she asked if someone from a low socio-economic area could be put in it to help them. We put her in touch with the Department of Social Justice who rented her house out to someone who’s on the social housing waitlist.
“There’s been a lot of great and heart-warming stories that have come out of it. People have really just put their hand up to help the situation, and that’s what we were aiming to get with this letter.”
Mayor Hatcher said he would meet with Minister for Regional Development Kristy McBain and Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips to discuss a “tiny home” project and create a short-term solution to the housing crisis.
“We’re needing the State Government and Federal Government to put their hand up and do what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
“Five years ago, tiny home villages weren’t something the community wanted to see in our planning. But now we are in different times, so we’re looking at every option.
“What we’re looking at doing is saying, ‘let’s get around a table, let’s work out what can alleviate a little bit of that pressure off the system’.
“If the State Government can make an amendment for us to adopt quickly, that’s much easier for us to do than going out for community consultation, changing our LEP and taking six to nine months to actually see anything change.”
The meeting will explore pilot projects for the region and link property owners with people who can afford a tiny home or demountable.
“Really, it’s going to be a little bit of speed dating – if you’ve got land and you’re willing to let someone rent it, here’s someone who’s willing to stay on it.”
Mayor Hatcher said while the State Government had said no, council would keep looking at short-term solutions.
“We’re in a crisis. I shouldn’t have to be writing this letter.
“We can’t just keep having meetings and talking about it. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a meeting and at the end of it, the outcome is – we’re going to have another meeting.
“We’ve got to be active and we’ve got to be doing something and be seen to be doing something. The community expects more.”