A development application has been approved for the complete refurbishment Wesley RJ Williams, an existing property on Glebe Point Road, to become affordable housing.
The approval was given following planning and design review by City of Sydney along with important consultation with local community members.
Wesley Mission CEO, the Rev Keith Garner acknowledged this important milestone, saying, “We had to take action. Finding secure and affordable housing in Sydney is almost impossible for low to moderate income earners.
“I see it in our staff and congregations, for example, single women over 55 years who cannot find stable, long-term accommodation.”
But it wasn’t until a very generous Wesley Mission supporter, who is also an expert in property development, met with Mr Garner and a new vision for the site became possible.
“Despite a clear drive to see Wesley RJ Williams utilised in a way that fits with the Wesley Mission ethos to support people in need, we have not been able to do this until now,” says Mr Garner.
The refurbished property will provide 74 self-contained apartments, including a mix of studios and four-bedroom configurations for families.
“This is a first project that, with our partners, we hope will provide a framework to help unlock underutilised properties to deliver positive social outcomes and strengthen community inclusion and cohesion. The need for social and affordable housing is great,” Mr Garner says.
The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) NSW and Homelessness NSW commissioned a study in 2018 to estimate the need for social and affordable housing and found that there was unmet need of 76,000 social housing and 21,400 affordable housing properties. Since this time, COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn have resulted in increased demand. Fortunately, investing in housing can also deliver positive social and economic benefits that can help to address this growing need.
The NSW Government has sought feedback on a discussion paper that outlines the creation of a 20-year vision for housing. The paper also notes the importance of developing safe and affordable housing, stating, “Housing will be a critical part of our recovery from the immediate and fundamental impacts of COVID-19 and recent drought and bushfires.” Wesley Mission, along with other members of Churches Housing have submitted a response supporting the strategy along with highlighting additional areas of community need.
The Wesley RJ Williams project now moves into phase two, which includes detailed design specification before phase three when the construction work to improve the property will commence.
The intended refurbishment is part of Wesley Mission’s strategy to review its property portfolio and enhance how the organisation provides integrated solutions and support across its broad network of services which assist more than 200,000 people each year.
The property will be managed by Wesley Community Housing to ensure that the mix of tenants will add to the sense of community both within the building and within the wider Glebe context.
To find out more about the project visit: dev-www.wesleymission.org.au/wesley-rj-williams