Councillor John McKenzie has joined the call for rental caps and investment in community housing

Councillor John Mackenzie believes that Newcastle needs “bigger and more diverse public and community housing” in Newcastle, as well as cap on rising rental prices.

CUT CAPS: Councillor John Mackenize has called for "more affordable community housing" in Newcastle.

CUT CAPS: Councillor John Mackenize has called for "more affordable community housing" in Newcastle.

The stance comes after the release of the Rental Affordability Index at the beginning of December, which revealed the Hunter region is considered “unaffordable” for single people on benefits, as well as those on pension plans.

 “We need to look at Newcastle council implementing a vacancy levy on empty homes to ensure properties are being made available to rent,” said Councillor McKenzie.

The move was part of a state-wide move by the Greens party, which Mackenzie confirmed the Newcastle representatives had joined.

“Newcastle Greens are committed to implementing incentives through section 94 development contributions that will ensure affordable housing is made more available in our region,” he said.

For a single person that is on benefits, the rental affordability index is below 50, meaning that 60% or more of their regular income is spent on rental costs. For a single pensioner the index is between 40 and 70, meaning that between 30-60% of their income is spent on rent.

Senator Lee Rhiannon represented the state Greens party with her initial call for caps on rent rises, and believes their suggested plan would ensure everyone has a stable, affordable home.

“We owe it to them to elevate the provision of housing to a human right,” she said. “There is not a single area in Australia that is typically affordable for a pensioner. It’s worse for a person on Newstart.”

“Only regional South Australia was found to be affordable for single parent household. Importantly, these are most often women.”