As the NSW Government committed to a $500 million four-year plan to build thousands of homes in the Eurobodalla Shire, Mayor Mathew Hatcher has urged ratepayers who own a second home to consider renting out their properties.
“We can’t wait years for homes to be built,” Cr Hatcher said.
“We need to address the lack of rental properties in our community right now.
“If there are more properties for rent, we can support workers and families in the area, meaning people are less likely to become homeless.”
Cr Hatcher said the Council has written to Eurobodalla Shire’s 8500 non-resident ratepayers to ask owners to consider putting their holiday home into the local rental market for the next 12 to 24 months “while the government’s longer-term solutions have time to work”.
“We did this after the 2019/20 bushfires and more than 80 homes were placed on the market.
“If people can repeat that generosity, it would be a significant help.”
Canberra and South Coast homeowner Vicky Volis has had her holiday home at Surfside in Batemans Bay for 18 years and recently received one of the letters sent by the Council.
She said she agreed with the Council’s call for help; however, she thought they hadn’t considered their audience.
“I think that when houses are sitting idle, and there is a shortage of houses down there because of the fires, that it’s a great idea,” Vicky said.
“They’re obviously sending out a blanket response to homes that they have identified as potential holiday homes and I don’t believe they’ve put a lot of thought into who the recipients are.
“I just think that they should have found a different way to approach people. We have a crisis, we need people to help, and I genuinely hope people do help.”
Vicky said when she and her husband first purchased their second home, they had someone renting it out for two years. After a bad experience, her family decided the stress from the previous tenants wasn’t worth the income.
“We actually made the decision, based on the risk and the damage that people could cause, that we would never rent our house out again.
“We created that space as an extension of our home here. We use it for personal reasons now and we only invite friends down. We don’t have people that we don’t know visiting our property.
“If my house was sitting idle and I was looking for a little bit of extra income, then perhaps I would consider it.”
In a sign of how desperate the rental situation is, Eurobodalla Shire Council has now arranged for mobile shower units to arrive at North Head Moruya campground as more than 50 people, including working families, are living at the campground because they can’t find affordable rental accommodation.
The mayor said the mobile units will provide hot showers over the winter months.
When it came to exploring the longer-term solutions for the current housing crisis, the Council is looking at exploring options to provide land for tiny homes in a pilot project funded by the Federal government, or build a homeless shelter that would be run by a local service.
Although community halls wouldn’t be open to provide shelter for those struggling, as Council was advised by local agencies and Homelessness NSW that they were unsafe for people already vulnerable, further information would be collected to help residents consider the feasibility of having a tiny home or caravan in their backyard.
Mr Hatcher said the idea was well supported by the local community.
“Residents understand the housing crisis is not something their local council can fix, but we can certainly do our best to support each other while the state and federal government do what needs doing, and that is build more social and affordable housing.”