EG to provide a diverse housing mix to meet the current and future needs of North Rocks

EG to provide a diverse housing mix to meet the current and future needs of North Rocks

The impact of inflation combined with rising interest rates is being felt across Greater Sydney, increasing concerns for the cost of living and access to affordable housing.

Affordable housing is rental housing that is provided to households on very low to moderate incomes and charged at a rental rate that does not exceed 30% of weekly income.

In the City of Parramatta, housing affordability is a critical issue. According to the 2016 census, 24 percent, or one in four, households in the private rental market are currently in rental housing stress. Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of households who rent in the private market rose from 28 percent to 34 percent.[1]

Hills Community Aid (HCA) Executive Officer and Program Director Mici Beer shared how the rising cost of living and rent in North Rocks is impacting people from all age groups, particularly young families.  

“HCA has unfortunately seen a 27 percent increase in the number of people asking for assistance through our homeless prevention initiative and there has been a significant increase in the number of people accessing our services for the first time,” says Mici.

Sadly, one of the growing groups in need of assistance is women escaping domestic violence.  

“There is a high need for women escaping domestic violence looking for safe affordable housing in their community so that they can remain close to their support networks and minimize the disruption for their children, and unfortunately, they are struggling to find that at the moment,” says Mici.

Until recently, Parramatta was considered a relatively affordable part of Sydney. This has changed considerably. The continued rise in property prices and average rental rates in the context of relatively low wage growth has unfortunately led to a significant loss of key workers over the last 10 years due to lack of housing supply and affordability.

In a 2021 report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), it was found that 20 per cent of key workers across Sydney experience housing stress and in Sydney, no Local Government Areas (LGA) have a median house price that is affordable to an early career registered nurse, and only a few LGAs in the metropolitan region have affordable unit prices.

Younger key workers, key worker households on low and or single incomes and workers with children often face the greatest affordability constraints, the latter related to the need for larger homes.[2]

Divisional Director David Workman says that EG recognises the importance of key workers having access to affordable housing and the team has considered these concerns in the proposal for North Rocks Village.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the essential role many key workers play in the functioning of cities, particularly during times of crisis.

It is critical that these valued workers, not only have access to housing that is affordable, but can also live in a place close to their work so that they are accessible to respond to emergency situations.

North Rocks Village is within a 20-minute commute of several major employment hubs, making it well-positioned to house key workers and their families,” says David.

“Those workers who are being forced to live away from and often commute longer distances to their place of work include nurses, teachers, emergency service personnel (police, fire and ambulance officers) and other essential workers that provide such an important contribution to the community’s well-being and safety”

EG’s vision for North Rocks provides a mix of housing types to meet the needs of current and future residents of North Rocks, including larger family sized apartments, townhouses and small lot housing.

The proposal has committed to the provision 5 percent affordable rental and key worker housing which is in line with the Greater Sydney Commission’s target and will contribute to City of Parramatta’s commitment to provide an additional 9,500 affordable rental dwellings by 2036.

Approximately 20 percent of any future development will also be dedicated to seniors living through a combination of independent living units and aged care beds, which will allow aging in place that is not currently available in North Rocks. A portion of housing will also be reserved for the RIDBC.

“We expect North Rocks Village to become home to many different people, including singles, couples, young families, key workers and seniors.

The needs of the community are changing, and we recognise that the cost of living is a very real pressure. EG’s proposal to provide accessible housing and social infrastructure will be a valuable contribution to the current and future community,” says David.

Mici Beer welcomes the diverse residential mix this development will eventually contain and looks forward to seeing the community benefits.

“It will certainly be nice to see further affordable housing being built in North Rocks and hopefully that is going to help families in their time of need stay in their local area and remain connected to support,” says Mici.

[1] City of Parramatta Affordable Rental Housing Policy 2019

[2] Gilbert, C., Nasreen, Z., and Gurran, N. (2021) Housing key workers: scoping challenges, aspirations, and policy responses for Australian cities, AHURI Final Report No. 355, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne