It’s time for decision-makers to do something about the Murraylands’ housing crisis
The Murraylands is in the grips of a chronic shortage of affordable and rental housing. Starting this week, we illustrate the problem and explore some possible solutions.
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Like the rest of regional Australia, the Murraylands is in the grip of a housing crisis.
The rental market has tightened considerably over the past 18 months, rents have gone up and public housing is at capacity.
Unless you’ve got a deposit saved up and can afford to buy your own place, there’s virtually nowhere for you to go in Murray Bridge or Tailem Bend at present.
Let’s start with rental properties.
Just seven were being advertised on the leading real estate website on Wednesday afternoon, at a median price of $340 per week.
A year and a half ago, the same analysis would have turned up 30 properties at a median price of $270 per week – a situation which was already being described as a chronic shortage.
The private market is coming up short – what about public housing?
That’s not a pretty picture, either.
At last count, 98 per cent of Housing SA homes in Murray Bridge were occupied.
Just 10 properties were empty and available.
Another 10 were rated as “untentantable”, in need of major repairs.
Those figures were from almost 12 months ago, too; and as noted above, the crisis has worsened since then.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it
Today, Murray Bridge News launches a campaign that will aim to draw key decision-makers’ attention to the issue.
Over the coming months, we’ll share local people’s experiences and build a case for intervention by governments and industry leaders.
We hope to gather key decision-makers at a public forum in Murray Bridge in August.
Advocating for locals is one of the reasons Murray Bridge News exists, and if ever there was a time for advocacy, it’s now.
So: what do Murraylands people need?
Shortage of rentals is most pressing issue, locals say
We asked that question in a Murray Bridge community Facebook group this week and received more than 1300 responses.
The top answers to the non-scientific poll were:
More rental housing (320 votes)
More affordable rents (230 votes)
More public housing (150 votes)
Pet-friendly rental properties (140 votes)
Smaller deposits for first home buyers (120 votes)
“The pet thing is so important,” one commenter said.
“People having to give up their companions just so they can have a roof over their head is heartbreaking.”
Respondents rated the lack of diversity in local housing stock, delays to new house builds, a shortage of residential land and the lack of feedback provided to rental applicants as secondary issues.
Rental properties are urgently needed, mayor says
Over the past 18 months, councillors, community sector representatives and business leaders have all called more investment in public housing, and for governments to consider policy settings which might make a difference.
Shane Maddocks, chief executive of community agency AC Care, repeated that call just last month, and said on Thursday that the situation was only becoming more dire.
Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis hoped Housing SA would invest in more one- and two-person units in Murray Bridge.
That would free up bigger homes for families who needed them.
But he argued that the need for rental properties, to accommodate workers and their families, was greatest.
“We could probably do with a couple of hundred houses on the market in the next two to six months,” he said.
“Seventy-five per cent of them would get taken up straight away.”
The new state government has promised to build up to 150 new homes in five regional centres, including Murray Bridge, during the next 12 months.
Mr Lewis said a housing forum in Adelaide next week, to be attended by representatives of councils from around South Australia, would shed more light on the issue.
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