The opening of 20-unit public housing building in Dickson this week has been hailed as an example of the ACT Government getting on with the job of delivering homes to people who need them most.
Under fire for not doing enough to keep pace with Canberra’s housing needs for low-income people, Housing Minister Yvette Berry said at the opening of the Turretfield complex in Lowrie Street that it was one of a significant number of new and renewal projects across the ACT under the government’s 10-year $1 billion program that concludes in 2025.*
“Were doing our bit, in fact, we’re doing more than our bit,” she said. “We’ve shown that in the investments we’ve made so far.”
“When the rest of the country makes the same commitment as the ACT then that will make a significant difference to everyone’s lives all across the country.”
The Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement says the Government will aim to deliver a total of 400 additional public housing dwellings by 2025, with a goal of 600 additional dwellings by 2025-26.
Built by a local company, the new development is a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units, designed to be consistent with the existing and future character of the suburb, and to have a positive impact on tenants and the neighbourhood, Ms Berry said.
“Before renewal, the four duplexes on this site had been built in the 1960s, were expensive to maintain and run, and had reached the end of their useful life,” she said.
“These homes are about providing affordable homes, sustainable homes that meet the needs of tenants now and into the future.”
The development is close to the Dickson shopping precinct, schools and public transport, including the light rail. All units are built to a 6-star energy efficiency rating to provide comfort for tenants and reduce bills.
Each unit has been built to a minimum Gold Class Liveable standard which provides diversity in the public housing stock to better meet the needs of tenants, regardless of their circumstances or abilities.
This approach to the building design allows Housing ACT’s Occupational Therapists to make any design modifications that may be needed to support the needs of tenants on a case-by-case basis.
Three new tenants, longstanding residents of Lowrie Street, are thrilled with their new homes.
Novy Forcadas is especially pleased with the community garden.
“I’m very excited to move to my new home. I love gardening and already have plans to grow lots of fresh produce with my neighbours in the communal garden,” she said.
Both Pat Bailey, who has lived in Lowrie Street for 61 years, and Betty Rowley said their new homes were beautiful and offered peace of mind.
“Were both pleased to have the security that you don’t have in an ordinary house,” Pat said.
Ms Berry acknowledged that change could be difficult for some tenants who had lived in the same place for many years but the relocation team’s ability to show prospective new tenants through a new property helped to make that transition as smooth as possible.
A Housing ACT spokesperson said it was expected that all units would be ‘signed up’ or ‘allocated’ in the next few weeks, but physical relocation may take time depending on individual circumstances.
“We’re currently showing tenants through in groups,” the spokesperson said. “It’s filling up fast, but allocations are based on Tenant Relocation Officers working one-on-one with tenants to make sure the unit meets a prospective individual’s needs for a sustainable tenancy.”
The three properties vacated by the Lowrie Street tenants would be sold, but can’t be redeveloped because they are duplexes, the spokesperson said.
*CORRECTION 9:30 pm, 28 February: An earlier version said 2015. This has been corrected to 2025.