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$100m for public housing, 15 per cent of land releases to be set aside for affordable homes

Ian Bushnell 29 October 2018 7

Chief Minister Andrew Barr launches the Housing Strategy. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government will spend $100 million on public housing over five years and set aside 15 per cent of all Government land releases for public, community and affordable housing as part its long-awaited Housing Strategy announced today (29 October).

The Government said the $100 million would deliver at least 200 new homes and the renewal of a further 1000 homes. “This new investment will ensure we can keep growing Canberra’s public housing stock to meet demand as our city grows,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Housing Minister Yvette Berry said.

It will also identify and produce publicly available and measurable targets for the growth and renewal of public housing.

They said the land release target would include both infill development in urban areas and new suburbs, providing 630 extra homes a year from 2019-20, or about 2550 over four years.

The new target will replace the previous policy of releasing affordable home purchase sites in greenfield areas only, which delivered about 400 dwellings a year under the Affordable Housing Action Plan, and supports the Government policy of salt and peppering public and social housing across the ACT.

“These targets will be met within a broader plan to maintain a sufficient supply of new land to meet future housing demand. Over the next four years, the Government plans to release sites for 17,000 new homes in Canberra,” Mr Barr and Ms Berry said.

ACT Government to spend $100 million on public housing

The ACT Government will spend $100 million on public housing over five years and set aside 15 per cent of all Government land releases for public, community and affordable housing as part its long-awaited Housing Strategy announced today (29 October).Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Housing Minister Yvette Berry fronted the media this afternoon to talk about the funding.

Posted by The RiotACT on Sunday, 28 October 2018

According to the Budget papers, of those 17,000 homes, 62 per cent will be units, 31 per cent will be houses (detached) and 7 per cent will be semi detached.

In community housing, the Government said it would provide 151 extra rental dwellings across different sites, to be tenanted and managed to achieve a strong social mix.

Ms Berry said that for example a 66-unit public housing project under construction at Kaleen would now be half public and half community housing.

“It’s about making sure that we have a good mix of housing that meets the diverse needs of everybody in our community,” she said.

The Government will also set an annual community housing target to provide additional affordable rental properties managed by registered community housing providers, as part of the 15 per cent land release commitment.

Land for community housing will be made cheaper through restrictions on Crown leases, land rent options or sale at a fixed percentage of market rate, and the Government will facilitate a project to develop community rental housing on under-utilised leased community facility land.

The Government will also investigate options such as land tax concessions on properties rented at 75 per cent of market rate and managed by community housing providers, financial incentives to encourage affordable rental housing on privately owned land such as lease variation charge remissions, or planning controls, and releasing sites for affordable rentals under a build-to-rent model.

Mr Barr said the Government needed to do more work on these to ensure they were properly structured and  targeted. But he said for example that work on the land tax concession proposal would be completed in a matter of weeks not months.

He said the Government could not support an Opposition bill on this measure because “you could drive a truck though the exemption regime”.

While there are no new specific proposals to increase temporary crisis accommodation, as called for by groups such as Safe Shelter, the strategy focuses on early intervention, improving homelessness services and getting people out of crisis accommodation into more permanent housing.

The Minister said the Budget had already allocated funds for crisis accommodation and the aim was to prioritise those in need such as the young, women, people with a disability and Indigenous people.

As announced last week, the strategy outlines new and stronger protections to guard against unfair rent increases and give tenants more rights to make a property their home.

To make home purchase more affordable, the Government will investigate alternative financing arrangements such as shared equity, rent to buy and expanding the land rent scheme, again ensuring that they are designed in way to achieve the strategies’ objectives.

Mr Barr also took a stick to federal housing and tax policies saying federal Labor’s planned changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements would enhance the effectiveness of the strategy, although he expected a massive scare campaign.

“So if we have all levers of policy and and all governments working on one direction, by that I mean meaningful change of negative gearing and capital gains tax that shift the emphasis in terms of housing policy away from housing as an investment class and housing as a human right then we will see significant change in Australia,” he said.

“So much of this debate  has been focused around improving housing affordability allegedly without making houses cheaper. Tell me how you improve housing affordability without making houses cheaper.”

The strategy is available at

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7 Responses to $100m for public housing, 15 per cent of land releases to be set aside for affordable homes
Jackie White Jackie White 5:50 pm 30 Oct 18

I'd love to know where all the public housing tenants who were in the Northbourne flats, and Red Hill, and Griffith (across the road from Coles Manuka) have gone. One day they're there. Next there's a fence up, their belongings and furniture strewn outside, and no sign of them. Anyone know? Where have these 1000s gone?

    Stacey Lee Baker Stacey Lee Baker 6:14 pm 30 Oct 18

    My friend was in red hill and she got offered a 2 bedroom house

    Jackie White Jackie White 6:16 pm 30 Oct 18

    So I guess they have been rehoused all over the place?

    Arety Kr Arety Kr 8:05 am 31 Oct 18

    They are all in coombs. The government bought all those units for them

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:12 pm 29 Oct 18

I'd like to see a review of the land rent scheme happen before they expand it.

I have absolutely no idea how it's working, but I can see some potential pitfalls there and I think it would be good practice to check if it's working the way it was intended.

I only know one real life example, but that made me wonder. A person I know bought a house through the land rent scheme and their house alone was way more expensive than what I bought my house and land for under the affordable housing scheme. I just wonder if there is a risk that it encourages people on lower income to overextend themselves on a deal that would make gaining significant equity in their property a pretty slow affair.

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