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Celebrating a new local housing estate

This project is being designed and built by City West Housing (CWH), founded in 1994 to encourage local workers performing essential services in Ultimo and Pyrmont to continue living and working in the area despite their low to moderate level of income. Twenty years on, CWH has expanded, and is still focused on helping people live close to their place of work.

Housing affordability in Sydney is a growing problem, according to the CEO of CWH, Janelle Goulding. “It’s hard for anyone to get into the property market, particularly first-home buyers and people with a lower income,” Ms Goulding said. Housing is classified as “affordable” when the rent costs less than 30 per cent of a person’s income. CWH helps families earning a maximum income of $92,000 per annum, and their services are always in demand.

One of the key features of their developments is that they are designed for the people already on CWH’s waiting list. The proportion of one-, two- and three-bedroom units in the North Eveleigh complex has been allocated based on demand.

Those who have benefited from CWH’s housing assistance include police, teachers, casino workers and single parents, many of whom would either be facing a high cost of living in the inner city or a long commute from less expensive suburbs. The process for helping local workers into affordable housing is different to public housing. As Ms Goulding explains: “Public housing is for people who are unemployed; we try to put people into accommodation to keep them employed.”

She describes the North Eveleigh plan as “one of our most exciting developments to date. We have designed it to fit with the surrounding area, and we’ve been sensitive to the environment.” The project contains a total of 88 units, each with bicycle parking. The units have been designed with a northerly aspect to maximise solar access during winter. Its location, near Carriageworks, meant that CWH liaised closely with the Heritage Department to maintain the heritage character of the area.

North Eveleigh is the latest in a series of CWH projects, which include buildings in Glebe, Green Square, Pyrmont and Zetland. But providing affordable housing is just part of how CWH assists their tenants. It has continued to work towards building community engagement and social inclusion by adding vegetable gardens and communal lounge spaces to its developments, and by offering short courses such as “Confidence and Goal-Setting”.

For Ms Goulding, the most rewarding part of the work is helping people. “You just know that you’re making a big difference to people’s lives. It’s very, very satisfying.”

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