Government to Mandate Affordable Housing for Our Nation’s Key Workers

March 31, 2017

WORKERS in our most valued professions will be offered cheaper housing in new developments under a progressive new initiative being discussed by state and federal governments.

In a move to address skyrocketing house prices in Sydney, key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers will be able to access premium properties at an affordable price, to ensure they are able to afford to live where they work.

The initiative is based a concept called “inclusionary zoning” whereby a certain amount of new construction is to be set aside at affordable prices for people on low to moderate incomes. It is already widely practised in the US and in London.

Treasurer Scott Morrison travelled to London — which also has a serious problem with housing affordability and supply — earlier this year to examine the its affordable housing policies and determine if they are fit for purpose in the Australian context.

Inclusionary zoning has already been adopted for some projects here in Australia but is not adopted across the board, in contrast to other global cities.

It is understood discussions are taking place at both a federal and NSW government level. Federally, Treasurer Scott Morrison, Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar and Social Services Minister Christian Porter have been developing the idea with a package to be included in the May Budget, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Under the innovative plan, developers would be allowed to increase the floor space or height of new developments in exchange for providing a percentage of lower-priced housing to these key workers.

Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor declined to comment specifically on any package ahead of the May Budget, but he did say that increasing supply is a major focus for tackling housing affordability.

“If Sydney had been growing its housing stock as fast as it should have, to keep up with population growth in Australia, we should have built about 35,000 homes a year for the last 15 years. We have actually built 17,000. So we’ve been building half the number of houses we need to keep up,” Mr Taylor told

But NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts confirmed the government is “certainly looking at new ideas” when asked about the inclusionary zoning plan, which is already happening in some areas of Sydney.

“The NSW Government is doing great things to tackle housing affordability already. We have planning policies in place that help us secure affordable housing when sites are rezoned, we have three affordable housing schemes currently under way in Ultimo/Pyrmont, Green Square and parts of the Willoughby Council area,” Mr Roberts told

“In Green Square, the City of Sydney LEP (Local Environmental Plan) identifies that 3 per cent of the floor space of new residential developments and 1 per cent of the floor space for non-residential developments should be dedicated to affordable housing. The Green Square Affordable Housing Program aims to develop 330 new affordable housing dwellings in Green Square.

“But we’re certainly looking at new ideas.” recently reported on property developer Mirvac’s The Right Start initiative, which offered 60 of its lowest price apartments in its new Pavilions development in Sydney Olympic Park exclusively to first homebuyers.

“It is in everybody’s best interest to have a community that can access their right to home ownership and having a place to live,” Mirvac’s General Manager of NSW Residential and Major Projects, Toby Long told

“Essential workers — fireman, nurses, the bus driver — are finding it very difficult to live in Sydney but we all know that a diverse community is the best community. It is a whole community issue.”

First Home Buyers Australia co-founder Taj Singh has welcomed the idea of inclusionary zoning for key workers as a good first step, but he said it still isn’t enough to tackle housing affordability holistically.

“We do welcome this move aimed at increasing supply and more importantly increasing ‘affordable’ supply of homes. However, it does exclude other workers such as factory, retail and hospitality workers who are also very important to all parts of Sydney. Yes we agree that nurses and teachers are required, but we feel the policy should be aimed at a greater range of low to medium income earners, not just a select few professions,” Mr Singh told

“This policy also won’t be enough to help address housing affordability, as it targeted towards a small portion of the aspiring first homebuyer market. The Government also needs to look at curbing demand for property by cashed up investors who are aided by generous tax concessions and incentives. Housing simply shouldn’t be a tool that allows people to get tax concessions at the expense of those working hard to achieve the Great Australian Dream of home ownership.”

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