The current approach to housing in NSW is failing. Successive governments have ignored real solutions and created a system that works best for banks, property developers and the very wealthy – but not for those most in need.
The NSW Greens’ plan will deliver the homes needed to solve the housing crisis, end homelessness and ensure everybody has a place to call home:
Universal housing system. Build 300,000 social homes. Just like Medicare and public schooling, everyone will be able to apply for social housing. Secure tenancy with rent capped at 25% of income. More »
Rights and security for renters. People who rent will no longer be evicted without a reason, and will be entitled to keep pets. Rent rises will be capped at the Consumer Price Index. More »
End homelessness. People experiencing homelessness will be offered social housing for as long as they require it, plus ongoing professional support. More »
All homes zero emissions by 2030. Develop the Beyond Zero Emissions’ Buildings Plan to retrofit every home in NSW and create tens of thousands of jobs. Energy use and bills will be halved, with many households producing more energy than they need. More »
Local council housing initiatives. Give local councils the ability to increase supply of affordable housing through inclusionary zoning and an Empty Homes Levy. More »
Coordinated, integrated housing strategy. All issues related to housing, including homelessness and residential tenancy, to be unified in a single portfolio with responsibility to a senior, dedicated minister. More »
Our plan to create homes for everyone
The Greens believe housing should be a universal right. Just like Medicare and our public school system, everyone should be able to apply for social housing if they need it. Social housing should be a desirable and realistic alternative to taking out a mortgage or renting for life in the private market. The Greens will grow the housing stock to make homes available to people most in need and those on higher incomes who choose to be part of our universal housing scheme.
The Greens will create 300,000 social homes over ten years, to meet the gap in low-cost rental housing. All housing on public land will be social housing, and we will set inclusionary zoning targets so that at least 30% of housing on private land will be social housing.
What will it mean for you?
- A safe, secure, habitable and affordable home to live in – no matter your financial situation.
- Universal eligibility: everyone is able to apply, with allocation based on need.
- Stability: if you want it, it’s your home for life. If you get sick or lose your job and can’t pay for a while, you will not be evicted. You’ll be given time to get back on your feet.
- Affordability: your rent will always be under 30% of your income and scaled for lower income households.
- Accessibility: mobility and accessibility needs will be met with best-practice design.
- Sustainability: all homes will be zero-emissions and consume half the energy of typical dwellings today.
This plan seeks to solve the housing crisis and end homelessness in NSW – but it will take a phased approach in order to address the existing and most pressing problems in social housing first.
Rental properties are people’s homes, and renters deserve the same security and quality of life as homeowners. But our current rental laws allow dodgy landlords to maximise their returns, at the expense of people’s security and safety.
The Greens will give people who rent in NSW a better deal by:
- Ending unfair ‘no-grounds’ evictions by specifying and limiting grounds for eviction and stopping people from being kicked out of their home for no reason.
- Capping rents by linking it to the Consumer Price Index. At present there are no restrictions on the amount by which rents are increased.
- Creating publicly available maintenance logs and maintenance reports
- Establishing strong rental housing standards though regulated sustainability, safety, accessibility and efficiency measures.
- Prohibiting blanket ‘no pets’ clauses from rental agreements and advertising. Wherever possible, people living in rental accommodation should have the same rights as people who have a mortgage or own their own home.
- Improving management of tenant’s bonds and interest.
- Improving protections for people living in share-houses by ensuring they have access to legally enforceable protections and rights.
People who rent will also benefit by having their home renovated under our Cool Homes, Cool Planet initiative. Their power bills will be halved on average, and they will enjoy a more comfortable and healthy home.
The Greens support a ‘Housing First’ approach, whereby housing will be provided for people who become homeless and additional needs are met with ongoing and professional support.
People experiencing homelessness will be offered social housing for as long as they require it.
We will work with the sector to address issues the current Liberal-National state government has created. We will increase federal funding for transitional housing and crisis services by $500m a year and increase NSW’s funding commitment to match it.
We will ensure this money is spent effectively on support services that are culturally appropriate and foster self-determination. This is
particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who are twice as likely to experience homelessness.
The Greens will ensure that there are no exits to homelessness – from the social housing system, as a result of domestic and family violence, leaving hospital, exiting prison, from out-of-home care or other circumstances. We are committed to a whole-of-government approach to prevent homelessness and support people when they need it.
These reforms to crisis and transitional housing will ensure nobody is without a bed, even for one night. Our broader package of building more social housing will also ensure that the waiting time for permanent housing is drastically reduced.
Our Cool Homes, Cool Planet initiative will mean that every home, new or old, will be zero emissions by 2030. Zero emissions houses will be easier to cool in summer and warm in winter. Every private home will make the transition to a pollution-free future by 2030, with appropriate support for households.
The first stage of this program will focus on existing public housing. This is urgent, as a 2016 Productivity Commission study found over one quarter of public housing dwellings in NSW did not meet basic amenity and safety standards. It’s unacceptable in normal circumstances – but particularly concerning, as January 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded. The Cool Homes initiative is a golden opportunity to renovate every public housing dwelling to meet the highest accessibility and safety standards, while improving energy efficiency and comfort. Every existing social home will be renovated to meet those standards by 2030.
The two million people who rent in NSW will also benefit from this plan, because too often it is those living in rental accommodation who miss out on the opportunity to take up sustainable solutions or the cost-savings of energy efficiency measures.
Making every home in NSW zero emissions will:
- Halve power consumption and bills, on average
- Eliminate almost a quarter of NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions
- Create healthier and more comfortable homes
Transitioning to a stable, renewable energy grid and zero-emissions homes will save lives and money. For example, during the 2009 heatwave in Melbourne, 500,000 people were left without power and 374 people died. The estimated economic cost of the heatwave was $800 million. Major heat waves have caused more deaths in the last century in Australia than bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms put together.
Two comprehensive plans are available to guide the transition to zero emissions homes:
- Built to Perform – An industry led pathway to a zero carbon ready building code, Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (2018)
- Zero Carbon Australia – Buildings Plan, Beyond Zero Emissions (2013)
All local councils in NSW should have the ability to progress initiatives that increase the supply of affordable housing in local government areas through initiatives such as inclusionary zoning and an Empty Homes Levy.
Inclusionary zoning can be used to create significant quantities of affordable housing. It has been used to great effect in the UK – boosting affordable housing supply by 43% – and in more than 500 US cities. It has also been used in South Australia, achieving 5,485 affordable homes, which represented 17% of the state’s total housing supply between 2005 and 2015. There is great potential for inclusionary zoning in NSW.
An Empty Homes Levy is an another option that would increase the number of rental properties and stop the practice of keeping properties vacant to ‘play the market’ while leaving people in NSW without a home.
Introducing an Empty Homes Levy on properties left vacant for more than six months in a calendar year – with exemptions for specific circumstances – will provide funds that may be used to provide housing for the most vulnerable in our community. It would also free up more rental properties in a market that is in short supply.
This housing package will require a large investment – as well it should. Guaranteeing affordable, stable and sustainable housing to everybody is one of the most important things we can do as a society. This is a productive investment that will create positive social and financial returns for decades to come. Revenue streams to fund this investment include tax reforms, savings from lower utility bills, and increased rental revenue from households on average incomes.
To ensure this investment is spent wisely, The Greens have a plan for a coordinated, integrated housing strategy. All issues related to housing, including homelessness and rental issues, will be unified in a single portfolio with responsibility to a senior, dedicated minister. This will ensure the housing needs of all people are properly addressed and the system works for people who need a home, are suffering from housing stress or are at risk of homelessness.
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