Thursday, February 22, 2024

Moreton Bay Council’s bold new affordable housing plan

Moreton Bay Regional Council has announced it will waive all development fees and infrastructure charges in a bold bid to incentivise private sector construction of affordable social housing in the region.

Mayor, Peter Flannery said with Australia in the grip of a housing crisis, Moreton Bay was “pulling out all the stops”.

He said the new policy offering was strategically timed ahead of an industry briefing about the Queensland Government’s $2 billion Housing Investment Fund (HIF) being hosted by Queensland Treasury set down for 15 March.

At the State’s Housing Summit in October last year, the HIF was boosted to $2 billion to support a revised target of 5,600 social and affordable home commencements across Queensland by 30 June 2027. Annual funding of $130 million a year is now available.

The HIF provides subsidies, one-off capital grants and other support to encourage developers, builders, Community Housing Providers, tenancy managers, institutional investors and superannuation funds to partner to develop, finance and operate social and affordable housing across Queensland.

“We want the developers in that room to know that Moreton Bay has a swag of incentives for them and we want them to know that this region is ready to do business now,” Mayor Flannery said.

“We’re coming out of the gates first and sending a strong message to the private sector that we are willing to work with them, we’ve already slashed the usual red tape, and we’re willing to sweeten the deal further by saving them literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction.

“In the current market where materials are expensive and labour is hard to find, we want them to know Moreton Bay is the best place for their bottomline.

“I’m conscious for locals that Moreton Bay’s affordability is one of its most attractive qualities, which means we need to prioritise investment in affordable housing as our population booms.

“There are no tricks, no gimmicks, no hidden costs here for developers. The facility will just need to be managed by a community housing provider, but the building can remain privately owned by the developer.”

He said the Council’s approach as a way of holistically addressing accommodation and shelter needs in the region.

UDIA Queensland Moreton Bay President, Keith Cairns said the Institute strongly welcomed the initiative to help alleviate under-investment of affordable housing in the region.

“There is a critical need for all forms of additional housing in the region to assist in alleviating the severe housing crisis throughout South East Queensland,” Mr Cairns said.

“This incentive announced by Mayor Peter Flannery means there will be more of an appetite for developers to invest in housing that keeps the most vulnerable members of our community in homes they can afford.

“Moreton Bay’s proactive policy is a great example of how all levels of government can step up to address the nation’s housing crisis.”

Encircle Community Services CEO, Chris Stains also applauded Moreton Bay Council for its progressive leadership in adopting its new Attraction of Affordable Social Housing Policy.

“The housing crisis that so many people are currently facing is real and it requires a whole of government and whole of community response,” Mr Staines said.

“Council’s leadership and positive action through this initiative is welcomed and it will make a difference.

“Linking private sector investment and development know-how to cooperation with community housing provider’s operational experience is a smart move for the partners involved, and for the people of Moreton Bay.

“Community Housing providers and Not for Profit organisations like Encircle are used to working in partnership and we’re good at it.

“Building new partnerships is going to be part of the solution and we welcome the opportunity to work with the private sector in making a difference for people who are homeless or seriously at risk of becoming homeless.

“Access to affordable housing is good for everyone – for tenants, for investors, for local businesses and for communities generally. This policy is an investment in our community and an investment in the future,” he said.

Mayor Flannery said affordable and social housing was needed quickly in the region.

“Statistically speaking Moreton Bay faces an unprecedented acceleration in homelessness compared to our neighbours,” Mayor Flannery said.

“Between the 2011 and 2016 census homelessness increased 57% here.

“That’s faster than Brisbane on 39%, much faster than the Sunshine Coast on 6% and far too high above the Queensland average of 9%.”

He said a lack of social and affordable housing in the region was putting more people at risk of homelessness – with more than 1,200 locals are already considered ‘homeless’.

“Council only has a certain number of leavers to pull to help turn this situation around, so Moreton Bay is pulling all of them.”

“That’s how seriously we take this issue, and that’s how quickly we want to get down to business.

“So if you’re an investor or developer who’s been looking at areas like Caboolture, Morayfield, Redcliffe, Deception Bay, Burpengary, Lawnton, Strathpine, Albany Creek or Arana Hills then please pick up the phone. Our planning team is waiting for those calls and ready to help.

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