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Oi Stanhope! How’s the affordable accommodation working out for you?

By johnboy 15 February 2010 27

Every so often Our Chiefly Leader comes out and proclaims the wonders of his affordable housing programs.

More often than not they mean a few lottery winners get a sweet deal and the rest of the populations has been further shafted.

Last week the Canberra Times ran a story on the ANU’s desperate efforts to find places for all the students it promises accommodation to. Aside from putting up hundreds of students in hotels they’re begging for help:

Pro-vice-chancel lor (students) Professor Elizabeth Deane appealed to students on Wednesday to offer spare rooms in private or share houses to help meet the demand.

University Accommodation Services is running this warning for those students not fortunate enough to be guaranteed:

Due to the high demand for accommodation in Semester 1, if you did not meet the requirements of the accommodation guarantee you need to start sourcing off-campus accommodation now. Offers will continue to be made where vacancies arise due to cancellation; however there is only a small chance of this happening. The private market in Canberra is experiencing heavy demand and the estimated time required to secure accommodation is approximately 2-4 weeks. It is essential to organise temporary accommodation before you arrive. UAS staff can assist you with enquiries about off-campus accommodation. Please see below for more information.

It’s become so bad that informal community networks (rotarians, churches) are billeting out desperate international students foolish enough to enter this circle of hell. (And if certain Stanhopian cheerleaders want to deny that; there’s one in my parent’s spare room right now.)

So now the rents for those of us without a winning ticket in the government housing pools are not only unaffordable, there’s also a failure in market supply.

How much are we spending luring people here again?

What’s Your opinion?


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27 Responses to
Oi Stanhope! How’s the affordable accommodation working out for you?
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KidKenosha 6:56 pm 20 Feb 10

Just to keep driving the point, the market for share accommodation in Canberra at the moment is ridiculously tight. Unless you know someone with a room going (and these are hotly contested, especially at the start of semester), as a male student it feels nigh-on impossible to track down a suitable place. I use “suitable” to mean anything bigger than a broom cupboard in the Inner North, for less than $160 a week – public transportation being what it is in this city, I need to be within easy riding distance of the uni. I’ve been trying since the beginning of January, been to fifteen odd interviews and received no reply to at least twice as many emails (there’s a circle of hell reserved for people who don’t remove listings from Allhomes), and as far as anyone tells me anything I present as a friendly and acceptable housemate.

The sad fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough places out there anyway, and student groups lose preference to public servants when it comes to renting places out.

hax 1:10 pm 17 Feb 10

Why not just build a couple 50+ story apartment buildings, smack bang in the city.. ?

Ryoma 9:18 pm 16 Feb 10

There are several things this city as a whole needs to wake up to.

Firstly, much of Canberra’s housing is pretty substandard by modern standards. I have seen places without heating – and they still get rented. Much of what is slightly above that appears to be built down to a price, rather than any thought being put into what tenants might actually be willing to pay more to live in. Many of these dumps cost a fortune to heat or cool, or you can hear the nieghbours on either side of you.

A question for landlords – ask yourself, would you want to live in the place you are renting out? If not, why not? And if you build a dump, why do you think any one would (a) respect it, and (b) wish to buy it later as is rather than run a bulldozer through it?

Secondly, while I enjoy being in the “bush capital”, as a city we are going to have get used to the idea of higher density. That doesn’t mean the sorts of towers that stick out 20 storeys high in Melbourne or Sydney, but it does mean places of maybe 5 or 6 storeys being built in terrace style, such as what is being done out at Crace (here- http://www.crace.com.au/#?/site/urban). Why are more developers not doing – these places are hotter than freestanding houses out there, but are still too pricey for many people to buy.

Many of the Baby Boomer generation need to be more accepting of the idea that not every house in Reid/Turner/O’Connor/Braddon/Griffith is a heritage masterpiece worthy of World Heritage listing, and not so horrified if higher density housing comes to live nearby.

Thirdly – understandably, many of the foreign students would like to live within walking or cycling distance of ANU. I don’t know what ANU has done with its housing in the past, but it doesn’t surprise me there is a crunch – turning up as an APS grad in 2008 I faced the same problems. I am living in the same cramped apartment I had then because there is nothing worth moving to that I can afford.

Any Canberran without a car will rationally choose to live along the radial bus routes, especially those with express services. This means wanting to live in or near the town centres, or along Northbourne Avenue through to Dickson and Lyneham. Anywhere else means a significant drop in options for shopping, entertainment, and accessibility in general.

But we have a lot of land in Braddon (for example) and elsewhere either covered in antique public housing or parkland. I’m not having a go at public housing, indeed I think the people living in such places deserve to be housed in places that are energy-efficient to heat and cool, and attractive rather than grey and run-down. Surely with modern architecture, we can find a way of better using these spaces for more people?

Another option is to look at renovating warehouses and the like in Fyshwick or Mitchell. Yes, they are zoned industrial, but other cities have achieved it, it simply requires a bit of vision and effort to think outside the square.

Let’s get beyond slavishly following the Griffin plan, which was planned for the time of horses and carriages, and act to reflect what Canberrans need now and into the future in terms of housing.

realityskin 3:52 pm 16 Feb 10

and rent going up is good, makes my investment more affordable 😀

realityskin 3:51 pm 16 Feb 10

I know someone who has 3 asians studying at the ANU boarding with her. She charges $300 each, includes everything including food.

trix 3:19 pm 16 Feb 10

Regarding the suggestion that students “think ahead” and rent group housing, have you actually tried to rent a house as a group in this bloody town?

2 years ago, two friends and I tried to rent a place as a group – all in our mid-late 30s, all professional, the other two married – our only requirement that it not be a dump and on the Northside. After several weeks of searching, the -only- offer we got was for a place in Flynn (which is nice enough, but a pain to commute to Civic from by bus).

Mothy 2:21 pm 16 Feb 10

Talking to someone from H&R Block last week (submitting 2008/2009 tax late – BAAAD!) my wife and I actually brought up the issue of renting out one of our rooms and whether we would have to declare this as income.

Major stumble was that if you rent it out formally, you end up forfeiting the capital gains tax exemption you have on the property as your family home. Cue a very big reason not to go down a formal road.

BUT

They did say that if you were to charge “board”, i.e. costs etc, and weren’t doing it “for profit”, you did not have to declare the income.

As with anything, seek your own professional advice, etc etc etc….

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