City West Housing features on

City West Housing features on

UNTIL recently, Sydney high school teacher Victor Zitser was losing half his income to rent and battling a horror 40-minute commute every work day.

But that all changed when he happened to glimpse a news article during one lunch break.

It was about affordable housing — a concept which provides quality, affordable rental housing to eligible low to moderate income households at a price relative to the person’s income.

The father-of-one, who earns around $80,000 a year, decided to apply, and for the past year he has been living with his wife and son at a City West Housingdevelopment in inner-city Zetland.

These days, the family is spending just 30 per cent of their household income on rent compared to 50 per cent previously — and Mr Zitser’s commute to his school in Newtown in the city’s inner west has been slashed to a five-minute drive.

He said he had been paying “more for less” for the family’s former rental property in Randwick in Sydney’s east.

“It was smaller than where we are now and in worse condition — it was a very old art deco building from the ‘30s that … didn’t stand the test of time,” he said.

“But then I came across affordable housing in a newspaper story during my lunch break — it was about (Sydney lord mayor) Clover Moore’s push for affordable housing to become more common in her council area.

“She said essential workers like police, firefighters, paramedics and teachers should be given priority for affordable housing, because they need to live close to work in order to provide the service, and I thought, ‘That’s what I’m after.’”

He said before applying for affordable housing, his family had been forced to stay in a less-than-ideal living situation.

“Renting closer to work was unaffordable and difficult to find — there were places, but they were very expensive compared to what I was able to afford,” he said.

“And there was also the whole process of applying — there was a lot of competition for any place out there that was half decent and the whole process was so arduous and took so much time.”

He said the family’s new property was “modern and well looked after” with good facilities and “lovely” neighbours from all backgrounds and socio-economic levels.

He said the public should be made aware of the option of affordable housing, especially in expensive, crowded cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

“I think it’s really important that essential workers should have the option of living somewhere affordable, convenient and of a high standard because they offer an important service to the community,” he said.

“It’s only getting tougher; I think statistically at least 50 per cent of people are renting (in Sydney), and with that in mind … it’s really important things are made easier and more affordable.

“Affordable housing is a positive thing for cities and it will improve the quality of life for a lot of people, and it’s also good for society in general.”

City West Housing’s head of housing services Sam Ngui said to be eligible, applicants must earn less than $101,400 per year as a household, be living or working in the City of Sydney local government area, be currently living in unaffordable or inappropriate housing, be a permanent resident or Australian citizen and not own assets which could be used to find more suitable housing.

She said properties were awarded to eligible people using a waitlist system, and the process could be started by filling out an expression of interest form online.

Ms Ngui said there were several affordable housing myths she wanted to bust.

“Some people incorrectly assume that affordable housing is poor quality. At City West Housing … we deliberately design buildings to blend into the local environment. Some of our buildings have even won design awards,” she said.

“From time to time we hear generalisations about the types of income that people living in affordable housing earn. Our residents earn income from a wide variety of sources — from the aged pension to casual retail work to university tutoring.

“There are enormous benefits to paying a rent which is based on your income, living close to where you work, potentially shortening your commute and being in secure accommodation where there is no risk of eviction without grounds.”

Written by Alexis Carey, originally appearing on

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