Alternative Social Housing
Northern Rivers Community

Alternative Social Housing

Call it an elephant, or call it a gorilla, what’s crystal-clear is that Australia’s growing housing affordability crisis is wreaking havoc on the quality of life of all Australians and it needs to be stopped.

Serene Forest Housing is exploring long-term, 5-10 year shared lease or other affordable housing options, on well located, rural properties. There is spare capacity in the Northern Rivers, the challenge is to utilise it.


Serene Forest Housing

Serene Forest Cohousing Northern Rivers

According to Political Science economists Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman "Housing affordability in the coastal regions of Australia is utterly unviable in the long term. Cohousing is an alternative development model that can deliver more affordable housing, low impact living and resilient, happy communities. The composition of Australian households is changing: our population is ageing and over 30% of households will be single person households by 2026. There are signs of new, more collaborative paradigms for semi rural living arrangements."

Cohousing Northern Rivers

Resources and Links:

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
Byron Shire Development Control Plan 2014
Findhorn Foundation
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

Cohousing Northern Rivers


Due to the pandemic, migration to Australia is at an all time low, yet housing stress is at an all time high. Skewed government polices are rendering tens of thousands into homelessness or into daily struggle just to pay exorbitant rents. Residents are forced to move away from communities they have lived in for decades.

The massive social and opportunity cost of housing stress in Australia must be addressed urgently by all levels of government. Housing stress and homelessness are some of the root causes of family violence, crime, drug abuse, mental illness 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 developed 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 Mullumbimby, were placed on the rental market. The asking price for each unit was $640 a week. For someone to pay this amount without rental stress they would have to earn $92,800 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 Byron 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 3,900 affordable housing units in the Northern Rivers, which is expected to increase to 5000 in the next 3 years. Recently there were just 14 rental properties available across the entire area. Not one was affordable for families or singles on benefits.

In comparison to the 14 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 $1.287,000, putting it ahead of already overpriced Sydney, at $1,150,000, while Melbourne ranks sixth at about $972,000.

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 25% 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.