Green Square affordable housing still affordable. Photo: Vanessa Lim

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BY VANESSA LIM

The City of Sydney is planning 330 new affordable rental units in Green Square within the next 15 to 20 years in a bid to ease rental stress. This will add to community housing group City West Housing’s contribution of 200 affordable units as part of the Green Square Town Centre development.

Karen Walsh, CEO of Shelter NSW said, “I think Green Square is a really good example of a long-term urban renewal project that presents a great opportunity to live in affordable housing for low income earners and also for workers that are on moderate income.”

“I absolutely commend any development that does include affordable housing because we certainly want to see all developments provide opportunities for everybody, not just the rich.”

Over the past 5 years, the median rent for dwellings in all bedroom categories in the inner west has risen, causing rental stress for people on low to moderate level incomes. Ms Walsh claimed the number of low cost private rentals available for low income households had reduced by more than a half from 4,410 in 2006 to 1581 in 2013. Even with the extra affordable homes in Green Square Karen Walsh said she has estimated NSW needs 8000 to 10000 more affordable housing places per annum in order to keep up with current population levels. “It’s a huge need and it’s a growing need and it’s literally growing every day and every week,” she said. Green Square resident Michelle Eckardt shares a 2 bedroom house with 2 others for $650 a week.

“I like the Green Square area but the prices are ridiculous, we’re getting a good deal really for $650, most other 2 bedroom houses are $800 or more,” Ms Eckardt said. She said living through the construction of the Green Square Town Centre was inconvenient, but for the greater good. “I think the development is necessary because the area was old, unused, a little run down and definitely needs an update, but if they’re going to make more houses, they really need to make more public transport and more services, shops and more parking.”

Resident Angus Cohan said he was concerned the infrastructure would not be sufficient for increased population. “As far as I’m aware there doesn’t appear to be transparency around the goals for resident numbers and how the infrastructure will cope with that,” he said, adding “[since] I moved into the area two years ago, the NBN has already become unusable during portions of the evening as it’s clear bandwidth demand is greater than supply.” 33 year old local Urijah Sward said he welcomed the development, and dismissed other residents’ concerns. “They’re worried about the quality of life, which is a joke because the worst thing for the quality of life is not having affordable housing,” he said.

“You hear arguments about high density housing and crime, which is really people just having a dig at low income and minority families.”