The massive social and opportunity cost of housing stress in Australia must be addressed by all levels of government in the wake of the COVID crisis. Housing stress undermines social cohesion. It is one of the root causes of drug abuse, crime, homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence and a diminishing quality of life.

Improving regional infrastructure and services and building decent social housing must take precedent over pumping more and more people into an already congested, overheated and stressed coastal housing market.

“Australia is perhaps the least densely populated major country in the world yet a large number of urban and coastal regional areas are experiencing a housing crisis where many people are now living without homes,” said Dr Wessell.

With more than 80% of their population in secure and affordable rental accommodation, civilised European countries like Germany and Austria clearly benefited both economically and socially from a more enlightened and well balanced housing policy.

"Affordable housing" in Australia is a sad mockery. Last month, one-bedroom barely affordable housing units in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, were placed on the market. The asking price for each unit was $420 a week. For someone to pay this amount without rental stress they would have to earn $72,800 a year. Such is the nature of ‘affordable housing’ in the Byron Shire.

A housing snapshot released by Anglicare last week shows that there was not even one genuinely affordable rental property advertised anywhere in the Shire for people on basic incomes. A few days later, a study by the University of NSW revealed that the Richmond electorate (covering the Ballina, Byron, and Tweed shires) had the second-highest rate of rental stress of any electorate in the country.

Research from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW demonstrates the stark consequences of this immoral and broken system. It shows that there is a current shortfall of 3,500 affordable housing units in the Northern Rivers, which is expected to increase to 5000 in the next 10 years. Recently there were just 38 rental properties available across the entire area. Not one was affordable for families or singles on benefits.

In comparison to the 38 homes available for long-term rental across Ballina, Byron, and Tweed Heads, there were 4,660 homes advertised for rent through Airbnb. The vast majority of those Airbnb homes were whole houses that stood completely empty 84 per cent of the time.

A recent nationwide analysis showed the median Byron house price was more than $987,000, putting it ahead of already overpriced Sydney, at $950,000, while Melbourne ranks sixth at about $772,000.

COVID has exposed the flaws in the neoliberal ideology. The aged-care sector demonstrates how the profit motive and relying on vulnerable causalised, hard working and low-paid labour generated immense suffering, pain and death. We need to reset the economy by rejecting any model that says society must serve the economy and instead require the economy to serve the people.

To ensure truly secure and affordable housing across the board, state and federal governments need to provide around 20% of the total housing stock in Australia. This would also prevent runaway and excessive price increases and stabilise the housing market for everyone.



There are record numbers of homeless
right across NSW, yet in Sydney
Lisa has 156 Airbnb listings,
Keris 137 listings, Vincent 124...

"Australia is the most penetrated market
in the world." (Airbnb's Sam McDonagh)

Residential Housing is for the housing of Residents.

Neighbours, Not a Stream of Strangers.

A NSW Parliamentary Hearing Committee
has recommended that despite having purchased or rented
a home or apartment, we should all now live in unregulated
quasi-Hotels and Transit Zones.

Endless drunken parties, higher levies, taxes,
insurance premiums, security risks etc.

And Tenants and First Home Buyers must forever compete
with Investors for a foothold in the housing market
and a place to call home.

Serene Forest Housing
Northern Rivers Meditation Community

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Housing affordability has developed into a major concern in coastal Australia. Skewed government policies and strict council regulations have placed large segments of the population under housing stress with negative social and personal impacts. Land Sharing / CoHousing with creative layout architecture offer a significantly more affordable solution.

The Northern Rivers Meditation Community welcomes prospective members who are interested in sharing a well located rural property consisting of two small houses and four cabins. Options include long-term renting or buying arrangements.

Send us an email if you are interested to find out more.

Serene Forest Housing
Northern Rivers Meditation Community

Serene Forest Cohousing Northern Rivers

According to Political Science economists Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman "Housing affordability can be expected to deteriorate more, with dire economic and social consequences. The problem is utterly unviable in the long term. With every passing decade it would get worse, the wider economic costs would become more penalising, the monetary policy more unmanageable and the outcomes more unacceptable."

Cohousing is an alternative development model that can deliver more affordable housing, low impact living and resilient, happy communities. Cohousing is a concept wherein suitable blocks of land are adapted to accommodate two, three or more smaller dwellings with some shared spaces, reducing the overall physical, financial and environmental footprint per household.

Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community without diminishing the privacy of the individual households. Careful preselection, communication enhancing meetings, sense of connection, and the physical design encourages both social contact and individual space, as well as more efficient use of general resources.

The composition of Australian households is changing: our population is ageing and over 30% of households will be single person households by 2026. Social isolation is a serious emerging issue. There are signs of new, more collaborative paradigms for semi rural living arrangements.

Company title is an alternative legal structure, generally much simpler from a planning approvals perspective and within existing development controls.

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Resources and Links:

Northern Rivers Meditation Community
A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
Eco-village footprints
Nightingale Housing Melbourne
The Simpler Way
Co-operative Living Information
The AGEncy project
Social Habitat Housing
Rural Landsharing Communities
Benefits of Cooperative Housing
Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014
Findhorn Foundation
Empathy and Authenticity in Communication
Total Honesty
Munksogaard and Andelssamfundet, Denmark
Regen Villages
Transiting to Advanced Civilisation
Aldinga Arts Eco Village
Brisbane North Eco Village
Mandala Community
Global Eco Village Network
Smart Urban Villages
Thriving, Sustainable Communities
Sustainable Communities South Australia
Ted Trainer interview
Awareness Play