Hepburn Shire Council last night adopted an affordable housing strategy and action plan, which outlines what the Council will do to help meet the many challenges of affordable local housing needs.
Council says the ‘A Home in Hepburn Shire’ strategy and action plan was informed by comprehensive community input over the last 12 months via surveys, submissions, webinars, community pop-up sessions and a housing solutions forum.
“A lack of affordable housing affects the whole community. It’s not only people on lower incomes who are adversely impacted, but also people in key jobs that we need to support our services and local businesses, such as workers in hospitality, tourism, agriculture, health care and more,” said Mayor, Brian Hood.
“Most factors that drive housing affordability are outside the direct control of local government. However, we recognise this is a major issue for our community. We have identified 26 actions that may help to allow for more affordable housing options in the Shire.”
President of local housing advocacy group, Safe Place Homes Inc, Mary-Faeth Chenery said the strategy was key to moving ahead and making a difference on the urgent issue.
“We are grateful to see the strategy adopted as it will now guide the Council’s and community’s efforts both locally and in advocating to state and federal levels, where much of the capability for making progress in housing is concentrated,” said Mary-Faeth.
The action plan and strategy has four themes: community and partnerships, advocacy, land use planning and regulation, and incentives and investment.
“It will take time to see changes in the Shire, but we now have a clear plan to guide our work in this space alongside the community and other levels of government,” said Mayor Hood.
Council will establish a Housing Working Group to guide implementation of the strategy and action plan. Among the options to investigate will be efforts to encourage property owners to provide long-term affordable rental accommodation rather than short-term holiday leasing, consideration of co-operatives to build and manage housing, and exploration of options for affordable retirement living options or public private partnerships.
“One of the most significant actions we can take will be continuing to advocate to state and federal governments for investment in, or legislative changes to support, improved housing affordability,” said Mayor Hood.
“Actions we can take locally relate to updating planning processes to reduce timeframes and encourage housing diversity including smaller, less costly dwellings,” he said.
Work associated with the strategic planning project Future Hepburn will be important in identifying sites for affordable housing options, the Mayor said.
“The township structure plans that we are co-designing with the community will consider possible sites within each of our key townships for a variety of accommodation options.”
“Housing affordability is a big issue in our Shire and we appreciate the efforts and contribution of many people who have provided input into the development of this action plan and strategy. We will continue to keep the community informed of our work in this area,” he said.
Read ‘A Home in Hepburn Shire’ at www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/Strategies.