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‘A glimmer of hope’ paves the way for more affordable housing in NSW

19 Apr, 2024

While the weather couldn’t decide whether to pour with rain or clear to bright sunshine throughout the day, there was no questioning the mood at the official opening of Nightingale Marrickville, at our Media Launch held jointly with Nightingale Housing and SJB Architects

It was a buoyant, positive atmosphere with the gathering of media and government representatives and invited guests including NSW Minister for Housing, Rose Jackson, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully and Deputy Mayor of the Inner West Council, Chloe Smith. 

Dan McKenna, CEO of Nightingale Housing shared opening remarks, “It is with immense gratitude to Fresh Hope Communities and churches of Christ in NSW & ACT and their vision to provide affordable housing to the Marrickville community, that Nightingale has completed its first-ever project in Sydney and first-ever project for renters, at affordable rates. If it weren’t for Fresh Hope, a project for us in Sydney was just not feasible.” 

Dan Dwyer CEO of Fresh Hope Communities gave a powerful speech that highlighted the power of partnership, and the sheer determination to see this project come to fruition—despite the surprising number of setbacks throughout the project. 

“There were plenty of opportunities to write this project off, saying it was too difficult or too costly. I know that both Dan McKenna and myself were surprised by the level of adversity that we faced in progressing this project. The opposition we received, the costs both organisations have incurred, and the objections faced as two non-profits trying to deliver a project focused on community outcomes was nothing short of extraordinary – and quite disheartening,” he admitted honestly. “It is our fervent hope that this project breaks down some of the barriers for other organisations who want to deliver projects to communities such as this. 

“We could not have delivered this project without the site and ground lease from churches of Christ in NSW and the ACT. We could not have done this without the community cultivation and sustainability model pioneered by our colleagues at Nightingale Housing. We could not have done this without the staff team and financial stewardship of Fresh Hope Communities. And all the key community decision makers along the way who have helped find a way when there wasn’t one.” 

Minister Jackson delivered a passionate address saying, “We have been so clear as a government that confronting the housing crisis is core business for NSW and this is exactly the type of development that we want to see more and more of…Every day we are meeting people who are struggling to lay down their roots in this city. 

“The young people who are the future of our city don’t see their future here and it is buildings like this one, this is the place that you can touch and feel, the tangible way we are trying to change that. And so for us to see this building come to life is a glimmer of hope in what is otherwise a difficult time for NSW when it comes to the housing crisis.” 

Deputy Mayor of the Inner West Council, Chloe Smith acknowledged the difficulties that presented during the six-year journey to get to this point. 

“It should not have taken as long as it did to get 54 affordable housing units developed here in the Inner West where it is so desperately needed.  

“I’m pleased to say that I think the attitude, particularly on council has really shifted over the last few years. And as Inner West Council over this term we have been determined to learn the lessons from what happened at Nightingale Marrickville and do our best to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.  

“So we are proactively trying to be part of the solution and we have been deeply inspired by the model of Nightingale Marrickville and to try emulate that and deliver more housing in this model across the Inner West.” 

The formalities concluded with a ceremonial planting of a Banksia tree on the rooftop terrace garden. 

As our Nightingale Marrickville residents continue to settle into their new homes, we’re hopeful that more organisations and local governments can see this project as a positive and tangible solution to the very real crisis in housing and ultimately change the lives of people who so desperately need spaces of belonging and places that feel like home.   

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