Boarding house objections may deny human rights
Objections to a new boarding house proposed for Ettalong may result in a denial of human rights, according to the author of a new housing standard which rates housing for affordability and accessibility to work and other services.
Mr Richard Brew, author of the Annex-5 housing standard, said that a failure to provide adequate housing was a failure to protect human rights.
“Rejecting housing development without solid justification is at odds with the natural right to a home,” he said.
He said groups objecting to local development proposals, such as the Ettalong boarding house, were in danger of showing too much self-interest. Responding to the rising opposition to the home units in Ferry Rd, Ettalong, and student housing in Glen Rd Ourimbah, Mr Brew said the voluntary housing industry standard Annex-5 set a new quality benchmark and drew attention to housing as a human right and not just a commodity.
“Despite endless reports on declining housing affordability and rising homelessness, we’re not seeing action on the ground as the situation worsens.
“It’s of great concern that when projects like these are rejected then the only winners are the neighbours who not only succeed in excluding others from housing, but also line their own pockets by making their neighbourhood more exclusive.
“Forcing out new homes effectively reduces the availability of housing for home hunters and increases property values for the established.
“In business this is called ‘cartel behaviour’ yet in the property market it’s so widespread that it’s seen as normal.
“It’s incredibly unfair on families,” he said.
Mr Brew urged community groups to take up the standard and know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to housing.
“These groups are objecting to housing per-se, which differs to the responses to say the Gosford waterfront development and the sinking of HMAS Adelaide at Avoca,” said Mr Brew.
“Those debates were more about a lack of transparency and loss of natural environment, parkland, schools and heritage.
“Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 25 requires that all levels of government work to realise the right to adequate housing for families and especially mothers and children.
“Local Government and community groups need to be clear about their roles and responsibilities under the human rights convention.
“We must remember that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created out of respect for those that sacrificed their lives during war to protect our liberties,” he said.
Mr Brew said one way that politicians could improve the situation at no additional expense would be to simply request the Human Rights Commission report annually on the progress towards realizing the basic rights of families to adequate housing.
Mr Brew said he was optimistic that the industry-led standard would empower community, government and developers to take a stand on housing rights.
“The days of developers sending in the backhoe and communities arming the barricades are over, for the first time there’s a level of consensus and understanding about what’s acceptable and our roles and responsibilities in creating housing.”
Annex 5 Housing Standard is free to download at www.arqua.com.au/publications