5 April 2021

21 new public housing properties to help address shortage

| Ian Bushnell
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Public housing properties

An artist’s impression of the public housing properties to be built in Dickson. Image: ACT Government.

Construction has begun on an additional 21 public housing properties in Dickson as a part of the ACT Government’s renewal program.

The mix of two and three-storey buildings will contain two, three and four-bedroom apartments, as well as two-bedroom town houses.

The minimum 6-star energy efficiency and Gold Class or Class C Adaptable homes will replace six properties on Morphett Street.

Speaking at a sod-turning event on the site, Housing Minister Yvette Berry said the Dickson development continued the program’s focus on improving public housing through the renewal of older, less efficient homes and increasing the number of properties that are designed and built to provide more choice and meet the different needs of tenants.

She said it had been designed to consider the best use of the area and block size to create a sense of space and privacy between homes and neighbours.

“The Growing and Renewing Public Housing program is increasing the portfolio’s flexibility to support the provision of safe, secure and sustainable homes that are close to services and transport for more people in need, regardless of their abilities or circumstances,” she said.

Ms Berry said there would be a range of people with different needs living in the complex which should be completed by the middle of next year.

She said all dwellings would have wider accessible doorways, the Class C homes would allow people to age in place and others would be fully accessible to accommodate wheelchairs.

READ ALSO Budget to give extra boost to public housing as report shows decline

There is a long wait for public housing in the ACT with more than 2700 on the waiting list – more than 1600 with high needs, nearly a 1000 needing standard homes and almost 200 assessed as priority.

Yvette Berry, Catherine Loft and Mohammed Wazir

Yvette Berry turns the first sod on the Morphett Street public housing project in Dickson. Looking on is Executive Branch Manager, Housing ACT Catherine Loft, and Managing Director ABA Construction, Mohammed Wazir. Photo: Supplied.

The average waiting times, according to the Community Services Directorate website, are 1340 days for standard housing, 867 for high needs and 267 for priority.

The government continues to come under fire for not doing enough to make a dent in these demoralising figures but Ms Berry insists the ACT continues to punch above its weight, although she says the government can always do more.

Ms Berry said that by the end of the program 20 per cent of the ACT’s stock will have been renewed.

“We have some of the oldest public housing stock in country so we want to make sure that these homes in the ACT meet the needs of people now but also as they age in the future, ensuring they’re available for those who might have difficulties and needs for more accessible housing as well,” she said.

Ms Berry said the ACT spent more per capita on public housing than any other state or territory and had always called for the federal government to do more.

“If there was skin in the game from federal government in providing additional financial support, I could see that across the country we would have more affordable housing for people who need it most,” she said.

Ms Berry said the current program was also focused on building quality homes that were more sustainable and easier to maintain, something that would reduce the government’s upkeep bills.

The government says the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program will deliver 1000 homes that are more modern, high quality and efficient to help improve the quality of life for tenants.

But welfare groups such as the ACT Council of Social Services say that there is a shortfall of 3000 affordable dwellings in the ACT and skyrocketing rents and low vacancy rates are making the situation worse.

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Mike of Canberra6:59 pm 25 Feb 22

This whole issue is an example of ideology triumphing over practicality, something to which we have become all too accustomed under this government. Why does the ACT Government sacrifice quantity and therefore need by requiring that public housing be located in all areas, even the most expensive? After all, if you decide not to build public housing in an area where land prices are pushing $2m and decide instead to build where the price is more like $500k, by definition you are going to be able to provide much more housing. But of course, because we are led by a government that believes in hard core socialism at work (other than near where THEY live), the opportunity costs of its public housing policies must be ignored in favour of something it childishly believes will deliver “equality”, regardless of the social cost to tenants and the opportunity costs imposed on those on a growing waiting list. Talk about a waste of scarce resources.

By the way, why is the government hellbent on providing a separate dwelling for every tenant, regardless of not only need but also what may work? For instance, why is the government ignoring the old style concept of hostels, something that could work if operated efficiently and securely and that could provide shelter over a period while the individuals concerned searched for more permanent detached, semi-detached or unit-style accommodation? Done properly, and I do mean properly, this could get roofs over a lot of heads very quickly, enable homeless people to qualify for Centrelink benefits (by giving them an address) and possibly even provide a base from which the tenant could be helped to address the issues or problems that caused their homelessness in the first place. What am I thinking? Far too pragmatic!

Canberra has more public housing per capita than any other state or territory in Australia. But we need more?

A lot of focus on the number 21 in these comments. Less focus on the number 1000:
“The government says the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program will deliver 1000 homes that are more modern, high quality and efficient to help improve the quality of life for tenants.”

People are too lazy to actual read the article and comment on the headline. You see it all the time.

I don’t understand having 4 bedroom apartments. Surely these would be needed for families? Where would the kids go to play? Would there be noise complaints?

ChrisinTurner4:44 pm 05 Apr 21

Demolish hundreds, build 21?

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