5 July 2023

'Tenanted by Christmas': Griffith affordable housing project nears completion

| Oliver Jacques
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man in a hard hat at construction site

Griffith Cr Glen Andreazza welcomes the news that Argyle Housing’s Griffin Green project is nearing completion. Photos: Oliver Jacques.

About 40 to 50 Griffith residents are expected to have new homes to live in by the end of 2023, as 20 units being built as part of the Griffin Green affordable housing project near completion.

Griffith has been struggling with a chronic housing shortage for the past five years. Less than 1 per cent of all properties in town are available to rent, while the average price of a rental has risen to $420 a week, which is unaffordable to low-income earners. As a result, many businesses have complained that they can’t get much-needed new workers to move to town.

Griffith City Council, therefore, teamed up with community housing provider Argyle Housing to build more low-cost housing near Walla Avenue. An initial $12 million project will see 20 new units, managed by Argyle Housing, built, while there are also plans for 42 lots of vacant land to be sold to private buyers at affordable rates.

READ ALSO New workers in Riverina left with nowhere to live as rental vacancies hit record lows

The Argyle Housing dwellings are what’s known as affordable housing, which means properties rented or sold at below-market rates to low and moderate-income earners.

“Social housing and affordable housing are two different things … affordable housing is a set model that offers housing to people at 74.9 per cent of market value,” Argyle Housing CEO Carolyn Doherty explained.

“In simple terms, if the market rent is $100, we can’t rent it for more than $74.90.

“It’s also income based, it’s targeted towards people in low to moderate-income brackets. It’s not targeted to those on Centrelink benefits, which is what social housing does. It’s about focusing on key workers … retail assistants, baristas, teachers, nurses and paramedics, people very important to essential services.”

Griffin Green has been funded jointly by the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund ($6m), Griffith City Council ($3m) and Argyle Housing ($3m).

The project will include an Argyle Housing office, a central green space and a basketball court.

“We are delighted to reach this new milestone with the Griffin Green affordable housing project,” Ms Doherty said.

”From the outset, one of the key goals was that we wanted to provide our key workers with purpose-built housing that is also accessible and secure.”

two men and a woman in hard hats at construction site

Griffith City Council general manager Brett Stonestreet, Argyle Housing CEO Carolyn Doherty and Cr Glen Andreazza at the site of the new housing development.

She said she expected that the 20 new units, which cater to both single people and families, would be fully tenanted by Christmas, barring unforeseen circumstances. Ms Doherty also praised the role the council played in the development.

“I’m not aware of any other local government that has stepped forward and made this type of investment for their community.”

Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said more would be done to address the housing crisis.

“There are other projects … now we have these relationships already established, there are further opportunities for additional housing on the affordable front that could come forward in the future,” he said.

READ ALSO Darlington Point housing subdivision offers hope as rental vacancies hit zero

Argyle Housing and Griffith City Council have also announced that they are the recipients of $1.479m in funding from the NSW Government’s Our Region, Our Voice Regional Youth Investment Program to develop the green space within Griffin Green.

The placemaking green space project is designed to improve the connectivity, engagement and participation of young people by having youth involved directly in the creation of the space.

“A key feature of the project is for the youth of Griffith to learn essential life skills, improve wellbeing and engage in work-ready workshops,” Ms Doherty said.

The project will also focus on providing improved access to services such as mental health support and job training opportunities for people aged 16-24.

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