Greens call on landlords of 1700 empty houses to pay levy to help homeless

EMPTY: Janelle Baylis and Stephen Nugent outside a Summer Street East house they said had been vacant for some time. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0816jkhousing1

EMPTY: Janelle Baylis and Stephen Nugent outside a Summer Street East house they said had been vacant for some time. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0816jkhousing1

Landlords of about 1700 unoccupied houses in Orange would be forced to pay a levy to fund housing projects for homeless people under a Greens party plan.

Greens’ candidates for the Orange council election Janelle Baylis and Stephen Nugent have outlined a plan where the next council would administer the scheme to help reduce homelessness.

Ms Baylis, who works in an aged care service for the homeless, said it was a major problem in Orange.

“The sad reality is that here in Orange we have people sleeping in cars, sleeping in dumpsters and even sleeping in drains,” she said.

“The Greens’ Empty Homes Levy would enable council to charge an additional levy on the owners of long-term untenanted investment properties.

“Council would invest the revenue in local housing projects, either directly, or in partnership with community housing providers.

“Council has the land and the local knowledge, and they can be part of the solution to the housing crisis.”

She said the latest census data showed that about 10 per cent of houses in Orange were unoccupied.

“We know there are plenty of investors leaving homes unoccupied and unavailable to the rental market while they make financial gains from rising house prices and generous tax breaks.”

“The levy creates an incentive for investors to make more private rental housing available and it funds growth in social housing,” she said.

Mr Nugent said council’s role was wider than rates, roads and rubbish and extended to social, environmental and economic issues.

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