By Sarah Yahya
Equipped with furniture and other household items, a large group of young people marched to Parliament House on March 11 to protest about housing affordability.
Organised by Sydney Alliance and supported by the Uniting Church Synod, the protest ‘Hey Mike, We’re Moving In With You!’ called on the NSW Premier Mike Baird to address the lack of affordable housing for young people.
Holding up a sign that read ‘What’s your plan for affordable housing?’, Michael McClurg, 23, said he considered the possibility of moving outside NSW but concluded, “It’s not realistic for me to be living in Sydney but the work is here. There are more opportunities here.”
Voted in the top three for the most expensive houses in the world, Sydney’s lack of affordable housing has been classified as a crisis with over half of low-income renters and home purchasers at a risk of homelessness. And almost 60,000 households are on the waiting list for public and community housing with young people comprising the majority of them. According to Youth Action, up to 40 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are under the age of 25.
Sydney Alliance spokesperson Charles Rich said the campaign offered a range of solutions and called on the State Government to consider them.
“The Government should be considering shared home ownership models and light shared equity. Sydney is the ideal environment to pilot a shared equity scheme, which would give modern income owners the chance to own their own home in partnership with the Government, a private investor, or community organisation. So instead of paying rent, we’re gaining assets. And people are gaining assets while the Government is investing in people’s futures.”
Among other solutions, Charles Rich supported the Labor Opposition’s plans to defer the cost of stamp duty over a five-year period and pushed for more communication between community orgainsations, political parties and cooperate companies.
In the week before the protest, Premier Mike Baird promised to double the target for new home sites on government-owned land to 20,000 over the next four years if re-elected again. However, Charles Rich stressed the issue of affordability continues, particularly for young people.
David Barrow, one of the organisers of the march, said, “We have just started. We are not done but this march has certainly placed housing affordability on the agenda for our politicians.”