Shelter NSW’ has been happy to support a proposal by Fresh Hope Housing, a community housing provider, partnering with Nightingale Housing, a not-for-profit building sustainable housing, to develop affordable rental housing on the site of the former Marrickville Church of Christ on Illawarra Rd.
Fresh Hope’s proposal is to build a mixed-use development, including 55 boarding rooms for people on low to moderate incomes such as students and key workers, offered at discounted rent. The site will also include a community hub and other support facilities including a cafe training space. Importantly, residents will be supported with other services.
Shelter NSW is no stranger to this proposal, with our CEO John Engeler having spoken in support of it back in 2020 when a proposal to heritage list the church threatened to scuttle the project. This week, the Inner West Council considered a proposal to waive certain large fees (in exchange for in kind works) that would otherwise apply to this important project.
As John noted, this is as good as it gets. In fact it’s not as good, it’s great. This is the type of affordable housing we need to see more of. This is an exceptional project because one hundred percent of the affordable housing will be in perpetuity run by a Community Housing Provider with much needed support for tenants (often called wraparound services). And of course, he quipped, “no houses were harmed in the making of this development!
He went further, encouraging the local community to think of future residents in this development as ‘Us’ rather than ‘Them’. “The local community of Marrickville needs this. They are the people who will be living there.”
At Shelter NSW, we want people to have as much concern for protecting ‘heritage communities’ as they do for ‘heritage’ buildings. If we’re not careful, gentrification will see low-income and vulnerable people and communities driven out of our inner west suburbs.
Marrickville’s history is one of welcoming low-income people from all walks of life. This development on Illawarra Road embodies that spirit.
For more information you can read these two articles:
- About the general encouragement to use faith-based lands for affordable housing: The-plan-to-add-thousands-of-affordable-apartments-in-sydney-s-inner-westl
- Opinion piece by Rob Stokes, Chair of Faith Housing Alliance and former NSW Planning Minister: Old churches-could-be-the-answer-to-our-prayers-for-new-housing