Edward Mandla
Affordable Housing Forum and Employment Lands

Published On: 08/12/2014

A man went out into the desert to look for the devil, after 40 days he turned and in his own shadow he discovered that the devil was in fact in the shadow he cast, it was him. That best describes the City of Sydney and affordable housing. We are the devil in the problem.

For years now, Iíve listened to the refrain of what will be achieved in affordable housing by this administration. I can reliably inform the people of this Local Government Area we have gone nowhere to date. No one has been housed in affordable accommodation and weíre doing our best to make sure no one will be.

Its been explained to us as, too big a problem that only some mysterious solution in the future can solve. This time the solution is a forum.

Perhaps we should not be asking for easier lives, but for us to be better Councillors, bolder Councillors and to make it easier to just get on and build instead of kicking the can down the road.

The human cost of our failure in this area is staggering. Try telling someone travelling from the outskirts of Penrith every day that weíre holding a forum to discuss a problem that has been well known to us for a decade or more. Such people waste hours every week they would rather spend with their family and friends on a train and getting to that train.

Itís easy to place the blame somewhere else, and that I suspect will be the product of this forum rather than laying the blame where it belongs Ė at our feet.

When I look at the Singapore Cyber Hub and the speed with which it has been constructed and the excellence with which it has been designed, I wonder to myself how many forums they held? They live on a small island with no natural resources. They surpass us already as a banking and financial centre and still manage to supply us with our automotive fuels.

When I was presented with the once in a generation South Sydney Employment Lands zoning proposal, the full briefing I received in respect of the matter including consultantís reports was in order of one thousand pages. When I got to the bottom of it, I realised how badly we had let down the people of this city in respect of housing, especially of the affordable kind.

The South Sydney employment lands zoning proposal is an example of policy failure in this area. In what appears to be an attempt at social engineering through housing policy, we have housed nobody. We have chosen maintaining industrial archaeology over housing people.

The best way to house people affordably is to build housing. We have made it difficult to do so. Our zoning, especially the proposed one in South Sydney is impossible.

Our rates, taxes and charges are in multiples of other cities. Itís all too hard, so people go elsewhere.

Iíve spoken at length to site owners who would be only too happy to construct the housing that we need, they have expressed their dismay to me.

Hold a forum if you want. I suspect it will achieve what has already been achieved in this area, which is not much.

For any Councillors attending this forum who are looking for the solution to the housing problem, may I recommend you look at your own shadow that you cast.

Iíve got a plan for affordable housing and providing hope for what is now turning into a rustic commuter class who would be happy to come to the Sydney LGA if we allowed people to build.

Edward Mandla
December 2014

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