Public and community housing moves to the outer suburbs

Ian Bushnell 12 September 2019 33

Chief Minister Andrew Barr launched the ACT Government’s Housing Strategy last year. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Only 50 public or community homes are slated for the inner city in new housing targets for 2019-2020 published by the ACT Government last week, and 40 of them relate to the Common Ground project in Dickson.

The City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency targets detail by suburb the number of affordable, public and community housing sites included in the Indicative Land Release program issued with the Budget in June.

For 2019-20, the government has set a target of releasing 628 dedicated public, community and affordable homes, made up of 80 new public housing properties, 60 new community housing properties and 488 individual properties for affordable home purchase to eligible low-income households.

The government has pledged $100 million in new investment to grow the public and community housing sector, as well as committing 15 per cent of dwelling sites to public, community and affordable housing. It says it will also provide seed funding for innovations in housing management, design and ownership.

Section 63 in the City Hill area will only have five public and five community housing sites in a release of 350, which also includes 60 affordable homes, boosting the proportion of social and affordable housing within the site to 20 per cent.

The ACT’s second Common Ground project, providing low-cost, supported housing, is proposed for Section 72 Block 25 in Dickson, after the success of the first venture in Gungahlin.

Nearly 1300 public housing sites have gone from the Inner North, South and the city as part of the government’s urban renewal program, with many residents dispersed to new sites in the outer suburbs.

In Belconnen, of 550 dwellings on Block 17 Section 152, only 15 will be public (10) and community homes (5), with 87 classed as affordable – a total proportion of 18.5 per cent.

The same proportion is set for Phillip’s Block 2 Section 180, where 480 dwellings are planned. Ten are public housing, five are community homes and 74 have been classified as affordable.

The targets for dwellings in new suburbs include releases in Gungahlin, Taylor, Strathnairn and the Molonglo Valley.

Of 800 dwellings slated for Taylor, only five will be public and five will be community homes. In Strathnairn in West Belconnen, there will be 10 of each in a release of 300, while in Whitlam in Molonglo, out of 600 houses there will be 20 public and 10 community homes.

Coombs in Molonglo won’t have any public or community homes in the new releases, but will have the highest proportion of affordable homes with 96 out of a total release of 326.

Affordable homes number 80 in Gungahlin out of a total of 474, with six in Taylor, 60 in Whitlam and 25 in Strathnairn.


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33 Responses to Public and community housing moves to the outer suburbs
mitro mitro 5:02 pm 19 Sep 19

Then we have the ‘salt and pepper’ strategy…. No matter how often one complains to the landlord (ACT Government), of the behaviour of their tenants, the landlord (ACT Government) ignores the complaints and NOTHING is done. Apart from the body corporate (rate payers) having to expend money to install CCTV cameras INSIDE the complex.

Spiral Spiral 8:50 pm 15 Sep 19

The government certainly contributes to the perception that public housing is undesirable.

Coombs has several public housing complexes while Wright did not initially have any.

When there is such a discrepancy in public housing between two new suburbs that are adjacent to each other it is not surprising that people gain the impression that public tenants were being dumped in Coombs while Wright was intended to be more “up-market”.

Either that or the people who designed the suburbs are monumentally incompetent and should be reassigned to a role more suited to their skill level.

Yes, now there is a public housing complex planned for Wright, but this was added in after the public observations about the discrepancy. And yes I presume both suburbs have individual public housing properties scattered across them in a true “salt and pepper” approach, unlike the “sauce bottle glob” approach of public housing complexes.

Moranda Stewart Moranda Stewart 5:45 pm 14 Sep 19

The % aren’t nearly high enough. They need to do better. And many of they’ve slated are not on decent transport links. Molongolo??!

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 5:34 pm 14 Sep 19

Discussions about public housing invariably attract “bleeding heart liberals”, who believe it should be anywhere and everywhere, and stringent critics, who’d prefer to see it nowhere and certainly nowhere near them. Let’s lay day down a few rational thoughts and, in so doing, identify the real culprit which, as so often, is the ACT Government.

I grew up in public housing as did my wife. This was at a time when public housing was available to all, with a reasonable expectation that many tenants at some stage would buy their homes. In these times, there was nothing frightening or threatening about the public housing demographic. Additionally, being poor was not a matter of choice but rather resulted from the enforced absence of opportunity.

What’s happened since? Welfare, that’s what. Welfare was intended as a buffer for the down times and a hand up to seek better times. Unfortunately, from around the 1970s, welfare recipients began to be treated as the “golden child”, seemingly incapable of any wrong, whatever the crime, domestic abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction figures told us. You could say this has been the result of circumstance, but circumstances were made to be dealt with.

This situation has flowed through to public (now welfare) housing. Once the gold standard, it has degenerated into the blot nobody wants on their landscape. These days, in fact, if there’s public housing near you, your property is likely to be valued somewhat lower than its true worth. Why? In the ACT it’s because our long-term government treats public housing tenants as saints, appearing not to place any noticeable obligations on them and allowing their homes to become slums. As with all things, this happens when government moves from administrative pragmatism to ideology. Move this tired, hubristic government on!

    I am a Rabbit™ I am a Rabbit™ 8:12 am 15 Sep 19

    Are you actually complaining that public housing is not occupied by the middle class anymore? I think if you actually bothered to look up the conditions surrounding occupying public housing between the 70’s and now, you would find that the conditions are much stricter nowadays. The problem you have is that people on the low end socioeconomic end aren’t hidden away where you can’t see them.

    I did like the comment about the whole “being poor is a matter of choice” which you justified by growing up in public housing. Honestly, the only aspect that proves is that you were a Baby Boomer who had housing handed to you on a silver platter, with later generations unnecessarily paying down debt incurred by that absurd 1970’s “public housing” policy.

    PS: The figures for crime, domestic abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction have never been lower, including that of welfare dependency.

    Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 10:36 am 15 Sep 19

    So I’m “a baby boomer who had housing handed to you on a platter”. As you know nothing about me, you shouldn’t make assumptions. I grew up in a poor working class family and have had to strive and raise the funding for everything I’ve ever had or achieved, including a university education. The public housing in which I grew up was also subject to a lengthy waiting list, during which time my family rented privately, all on a very low income. So in fact, far from people on the low end of the socioeconomic scale being hidden from sight in those days, we were such people and we lived in plain sight. I’ve had nothing handed to me on a platter. Perhaps you should keep your callow assumptions to yourself.

    And frankly, I don’t care about your precious statistics about abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction and welfare dependency never having been lower. The fact is that these situations still exist and there is a fair concentration of them around public housing. This doesn’t make assumptions about every public housing tenant, just states fact about the concentration of problems within areas of public housing. And by the way, has it occurred to you that the reduction of the social problems has gone hand in hand with welfare reduction, thus proving my point?

    innernorthcarol innernorthcarol 5:11 pm 19 Sep 19

    My experience is that living near public housing does not lower property values. I live in Ainslie. Across the street is a public housing dwelling; diagonally across from me is a public housing complex with low level garden apartments. One block east there are two public housing dwellings in a cul du sac and another two public housing dwellings in a cul du sac one block to the west. My rates have always steadily increased (even before the switch to land tax) and I have live in this location for nearly 24 years. When the house two doors down went to auction a few years ago, it broke the $1 million mark for our neighbourhood–and it too is across the street from that public housing dwelling I mentioned. Noise or unruly behaviour? Nope. Untidy or poorly maintained yards? Nope. My neighbours’ garden puts mine to shame. I think the assertion that public housing brings down property values is unsubstantiated.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 4:37 pm 14 Sep 19

Nothing wrong with public housing in the outer suburbs. It just has to be matched with support services, community facilities, entertainment options and public transport.

Unfortunately Mr Barr has been removing these much needed things from the outer burbs. What an un Labor leader Mr Barr is.

Sher Bee Sher Bee 4:16 pm 14 Sep 19

Barr doesn’t care about anyone whose demographics differ from his. Barr humbug Vote him OUT!

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 2:54 pm 14 Sep 19

Certainly more affordable for the budget. As a ratepayer fair enough. Canberra has always had a diverse spread of public housing.

    Debbi Fluke Debbi Fluke 8:21 pm 14 Sep 19

    Unfortunately it makes it more difficult for vulnerable and disadvantaged people to access the support services they need, that are usually centralised around the CBD

    Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 9:20 pm 14 Sep 19

    Yeah sure but everyone is making sacrifices these days.

Carole Ford Carole Ford 1:59 pm 14 Sep 19

Yep, not enough money to be made by setting up community housing in the heart of the city!!

Jim Jim Jim Jim 1:45 pm 14 Sep 19

I love the drug dealers who live in the public house next to me. Thank you ACT Government.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 2:15 pm 14 Sep 19

    Sally Violet Pearson I hope they don’t deal as much. I’m very much not alone with this issue or the clear rubbish in the front yard and hoarding. Don’t they check public housing tenants. Try living next to it. Watch your house value drop. Have your kids subjected to people off their chops in your front yard or people knocking on your front door at 2am looking to score. Riot police raid the place and arrest previous tenant. I watched them drag him off high. tDon’t tell me about Yarralumla. This is Downer.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 3:42 pm 14 Sep 19

    Sally Violet Pearson not all are but there’s clear failure in basic checking in on tenants.

    Christie Hartfiel Christie Hartfiel 8:12 am 15 Sep 19

    Jim Hosie that’s not fun for you, but where do you think your neighbours should be housed?

    Dan Smith Dan Smith 2:00 pm 15 Sep 19

    Christie Hartfiel if he is a drug dealer then in Jail.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 2:04 pm 15 Sep 19

    Christie Hartfiel managed out by ACT Government. I’m sure there are many with legitimate need who don’t do this but public housing management is a disgrace. And ‘no fun’ is actually not even close and fobs off the reality of living like this...walk a mile in my shoes or those actually experiencing it. Actually why don’t you put them up? Or have them live next to you. I’m sure your attitude will change dramatically when reality bites your @ss.

Jill Lyall Jill Lyall 11:52 am 14 Sep 19

So inner city Canberra is now the exclusive preserve of the well off. Canberra you are so boringly predictable

    Meg Joy Meg Joy 12:55 pm 14 Sep 19

    This appears to be Barr's misguided and very un-Canberran plan - making Canberra like Melbourne (his favourite place), with obvious class divides depending on the suburb you live in. Very sad to see Canberra's structural egalitarianism being flushed down the toilet

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 10:41 pm 14 Sep 19

    Jill Lyall no it is not suggesting that at all. Inner areas still actually have a disproportionate amount of public housing actually.

    This is related to new housing stock. And the figures don’t surprise me and are what I would expect where better value can be found in newer (read outer)suburbs.

    And as a resident of an outer suburb don’t give me the rot others have that it is harder to access services

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 11:08 am 14 Sep 19



Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 10:54 am 14 Sep 19

That's 50 out of 80 public and 60 community housing properties. So more than 1/3. That seems more than reasonable when you consider the distribution of residents across Canberra suburbs?

It is also logical that most affordable housing properties are in the outer suburbs. I bought one years ago and I'm close to the NSW border. I would have much rather lived closer in, but could never afford the land values or rates.

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 10:48 am 14 Sep 19

Too many in Dickson....Dickson needs a clean up not wife will not go to Dickson Woolworths as it is.

    Bek Clark Bek Clark 12:09 pm 14 Sep 19

    Craig Elliott Dickson Woolworths, Coolo Woolworths, Manuka Coles

    Does she shop online? Then she’d have to talk to the working class individual driving the delivery truck. Heaven forbid they’re a migrant. She’ll need the salts surely.

    Caitlin Brooks Caitlin Brooks 2:13 pm 14 Sep 19

    dickson is shocking. I don’t blame your wife not wanting to shop there

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 4:06 pm 14 Sep 19

    Caitlin Brooks try having a chat - not so shocking!!!! Easily shocked, I’d say

    Sher Bee Sher Bee 4:12 pm 14 Sep 19

    Craig Elliott absolutely, I totally avoid Dickson shops, I suffer from ptsd, when strangers approach me, touch me or tap on my car window I panic and 😖😖😖 I usually go home and order my groceries online.

    Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 5:01 pm 14 Sep 19

    Bek Clark no shops at Belco Aldi actually

Tan Choi Heng Tan Choi Heng 10:13 am 14 Sep 19

Brost Freezeman Hau Le Lachlan Burke Hamish Sinclair Anthony Burton a "salt and pepper" approach towards public and community housing location?

    Hamish Sinclair Hamish Sinclair 1:24 pm 14 Sep 19

    Tan Choi Heng with no access to transport thanks to spoke and hub bus plan. classic housing,planning, and transport all doing their own thing

    Tan Choi Heng Tan Choi Heng 1:36 pm 14 Sep 19

    Hamish Sinclair "Integrated Land Use, Transport and Community Master Plan" would be helpful!

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