Forum to tackle cost of living in Newcastle

21 Feb 2018

Setting targets for affordable housing supply and considering new zoning laws to encourage construction of low-cost housing will be among the subjects discussed today at a round table forum hosted by Newcastle City Council.

The Affordable Living Round Table will feature regional leaders in business, the property industry, welfare organisations, education and politics, all aiming to tackle the growing cost of living in the Hunter.

Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said the forum would focus on issues and ideas raised in Council's draft Affordable Living Plan 2017.

"The plan identifies the challenges people in Newcastle face when it comes to housing affordability and other living costs that drain the weekly budget," she said.

"It's a particularly pressing issue for our city - our wages are below the NSW average and almost 60 per cent of low-income households living in rental accommodation are experiencing housing stress."

However, the Lord Mayor said affordable living was not solely the concern of low income earners.

"Research shows that families on moderate incomes are also susceptible to financial struggle due to the rising cost of housing. Many of these people perform key roles in our community, such as nursing, teaching and policing.

"These households are often caught in the middle - they earn too much to qualify for social housing but they can't afford to buy a home for themselves."

Today's forum will look at the possibility of supporting "inclusionary zoning" in parts of Newcastle, where developers set aside a percentage of floor space for affordable housing.

Alternatively, or additionally, developers who provide affordable housing could be offered financial incentives.

"These are just some of the measures we must consider," the Lord Mayor said.

The forum will include representatives from the Housing Industry Association, Property Council of Australia, Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council, St Vincent de Paul Society and University of Newcastle, among others.