The State of the Cities Report shows the urgent need for a coordinated approach to transport and housing, Australian Greens sustainable cities spokesperson Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said today.
"The Report vindicates what advocates of sustainable urban planning have been saying for more than a decade," Senator Ludlam said. "On one hand the supply of housing is not meeting demand, on the other hand urban sprawl solves one problem by creating more problems."
"More and more people are being forced to the fringes of metropolitan areas so they can afford a home. They live far away from transport hubs and from their places of work. This means more traffic on the roads, more travel time, more pollution and, particularly as the price of oil is projected to rise, more financial pressure on people.
"We need more housing near transport hubs and centres of economic activity. Expanding the public transport system and zoning reform are parts of the puzzle, the other is tapping of a wasted resource - the many properties that lie unused.
"There are hundreds of thousands of unused properties across the country that could be converted into accommodation, including shop tops right in the very heart of the major cities. According to the State of the Cities Report, 9.16 per cent of private dwellings in Australia's major cities were unoccupied in 2011. The Greens ‘Convert To Rent' programme would provide grants to property owners to convert their unused spaces into affordable rentals.
"The Greens have been promoting a national housing plan to address the nation-wide shortage, with the inexcusable shortfall of almost 600,000 affordable rental properties the top priority.
"As for our transport hubs, we need to see greater Federal and State funding for public transport, particularly light and heavy rail. In Western Australia, for example, we've recently seen $8 billion pledged for transport, but less than a quarter of that is for public transport - and even less is for rail.
"Affordable housing closer to improved public transport services and closer to employment centres will revitalise our cities; liberating us from the environmental, social, and economic burden of traffic congestion and oil-dependency."