A $200,000 boost to upgrade four properties in Queanbeyan to provide social housing for people in desperate need of accommodation cannot come soon enough according to a local builder and charity who are giving people impacted by domestic and family violence and homelessness a place to live.
Queanbeyan-based builder Deb Strickland, owner of Place Ace, is managing the installation of new bathroom and kitchen fitouts at the four properties thanks to a grant of $201,827 by the NSW Government.
Janette Dale, executive officer of Molonglo Support Services, secured the grant which she said will make a huge difference towards improving the quality, safety and comfort of people in the Queanbeyan local area who urgently need crisis and transitional accommodation.
The grant also supports five local small-to-medium businesses that are urgently making the properties safe and liveable before the end of June.
Ms Strickland said she’s been flat out installing shower screens, tiling and waterproofing bathrooms while adding the finishing touches to kitchens and doing asbestos removal where necessary.
“I’d love to get my hands on more shower screens at the moment, and actually wish I could employ 10 girls and we teach them how to install shower screens,” she said.
She also said the NSW Government stimulus package is a changemaker for women looking to take on a building trade.
“Not only are we a part of social housing construction, which is so beneficial for women in need, but women are building for other women with bathrooms and kitchens. The obvious flow-on effect is providing traineeships and apprenticeships,” said Ms Strickland.
“My greatest passion is teaching women to build and demystifying the process. Teaching women to build in a safe environment, step out of their comfort zone, pick up a hammer and build something that is theirs gives women a sense of control and achievement in a world they have not had access to before when they have limited confidence, made worse for those in domestic violence situations.”
Ms Dale said once the program of works is complete, Molonglo Support Services will subsidise short-term accommodation for people in need.
“We provide a tenancy manager, upkeep on the property, rates and associated costs,” she said.
“With this grant, we can also have new kitchens, new bathrooms, fencing, painting and things we would have had to find the money for.”
Ms Dale also said the arrival of the Queanbeyan Sleepbus in March 2021 was another brilliant short-term solution to prevent a growing number of people from sleeping rough.
“We helped 377 people who were homeless at some stage during the past financial year,” she said.
“Homelessness now is something that doesn’t discriminate. We’ve seen a lot of older people and lots of single mothers. There are even people who have lost their jobs and have found themselves needing a place to live.
“Families are our first priority, but at the same time, we don’t have an endless supply of properties.”
Ms Dale said the stigma associated with being homeless is a big part of getting people to come forward.
“Often, a whole family may be living in somebody’s lounge room which is alright for maybe a couple of nights,” she said.
“You wouldn’t think homelessness is an issue in this area, but it’s hidden away and people are not wanting to be identified as homeless.”
This latest funding allocation flows from the NSW Government’s announcement of 31 successful bids by community housing providers in regional NSW to deliver $40 million in stimulus funding to upgrade social housing and create jobs as part of the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“The program will create more than 350 jobs in NSW, with more than half of them in regional areas,” said NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey. “Regional NSW has also received over half of government stimulus grants above $1 million.”