Affordable housing in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region

A useful new resource

Recently, we have had the pleasure of being brought up to speed on Judith Stubbs & Associates report Illawarra Shoalhaven Affordable Housing Strategic Options Paper Summary, commissioned by Business Illawarra. This highly detailed and practical report comes at a crucial point in time for Councils and State Government looking to do more for low-income renters, key workers, and people on social housing waitlists – not the least because our Regional Housing Need Report identifies Shellharbour and Wollongong in our top 11 LGAs of high-housing need! We were disappointed (but not surprised) to learn that only 10% of housing provided in the private housing market to 2041 in the region will match the affordability needs-assessment of low-income households.

The Affordable Housing Strategic Options Summary report also references a second report from Judith Stubbs & Assoc. known as Illawarra Shoalhaven Case Studies and Strategies, which goes into site-specific details for select sites across the Illawarra-Shoalhaven that have been assessed for preliminary planning potential to deliver social and affordable housing. This second report is not publicly available, but we have been spruiking it to our contacts at LAHC!

Again, we thank Judy Stubbs and her team for this precious resource, and also Business Illawarra for their commitment to advancing housing justice for locals.

Former Bulli Hospital site case study

The Stubbs’ report provides detailed, practical advice to Government (state and local) including site-specific proposal, for example, the former Bulli Hospital site (pictured here). According to the report the was acquired by Landcom from NSW Health in May 2022, with the former now working with Wollongong City Council for the transformation and redevelopment of the site for new housing. The proposal by Landcom at the time of writing is for 50 to 70 dwellings with height up to three storeys, and 10% affordable housing for people on low to moderate incomes (although it is reported to be currently revising these targets)

The site is remarkably well-located:

  • opposite the newly constructed Bulli Hospital and Aged Care Centre, employing hundreds of low paid key workers, including nurses, aged care workers, cleaners and kitchen staff.
  • within walking of a Woolworths and other shops, medical and other services
  • with excellent access to public transport (bus and train).

As the report highlights, the northern suburbs of Wollongong are some of the most expensive in the Region, with median rental of $730 affordable to only higher income households. This necessarily requires most or all of the take-home pay of low income key workers at the hospital and aged care centre.
We endorse the report’s call for a revised proposal to commit at least 30% of dwellings on this site to affordable (including social) housing for a mixture of very low, low and moderate income households. And further, that it be used as a demonstration project for very low and low income key workers in the health and aged care sector.
We commend this report to any local council or state government looking for practical ideas on how to tackle the housing crisis.