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City needs broad community

THE city community should be acc-essible for people and families of all income groups, thereby contributing to a city that is socially inclusive and culturally diverse, according to City Housing executive officer Hans Gerritsen.

“Our concept of affordable housing is aimed primarily at the city worker who may be employed in the retail, hospi-tality, restaurant, office or service sector,” he said at a recent Inner City Housing Developers Association brief-ing.

“Planning and local government jurisdictions are becoming increasingly aware of the negative consequences

of neighbourhoods being homo-genous in their socio-economic make up.

“A city should always have a robust and well-serviced residential population.

“These people represent the forgotten majority who, while working in the city, cannot afford the present high level of rents applicable to live there.

“These people are forced to commute from the suburbs on a daily basis at a relatively high cost component when compared to their disposable income.”

Mr Gerritsen said figures from the City of Perth indicated that the majority of workers were not earning enough to buy an inner city apartment so they were being squeezed out.

“These figures would indicate that the residential sector is continuing to gain strength in the city but clearly at the expense of the inner city worker who is being squeezed out of the market by the ever widening ‘rent gap’,” he said.

The rent gap refers to the spread in the market preventing easy entry from rental to home purchase.

Mr Gerritsen said there were some benefits to developers who were prepared to allow for a component of affordable housing within their project.

The charitable status of most community housing providers enables them to claim GST as input credits.

“So in theory if the construction component of a project is $2.5 million and the affordable housing component is say 10 per cent then effectively we could generate a savings on the contract of $25,000,” Mr Gerritsen said.

Another method where devel-opers could contribute to affordable housing was through the application of plot ratio-/density bonuses.

The City of Perth has the ability to grant bonuses of up to 20 per cent on plot ratio for developments addressing positive town planning issues.

City Housing and its predecessor the Perth Inner City Housing Association, is a community housing association providing cheap accommodation.

When City Housing was incorporated in 1987 its primary role was to lobby against the loss of inner city boarding and lodging houses.

In November 1988 the organisation acquired the leasehold of Alexandra Hostel, a 24-room lodging house in Hay Street. Since then the Perth Hostel and the Tom Burke House have also been acquired.

In 1993 the organisation, in partnership with Homeswest, completed its first joint venture with the construction of 18 apartments in Bronte Street, East Perth.

More recently it constructed 19 units in Haig Park. City Housing now provides 424 beds.

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