14 May 2019

Sale of older sites to pay for public housing renewal plan

| Ian Bushnell
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The Government’s $600 million strategy aims to alleviate Canberra’s dire shortage of affordable housing for low-income people.

The ACT Government will sell 700 older properties to generate $500 million to help pay for its plans to renew 1000 homes and add 200 more to public housing stock over the next five years.

The Growing and Renewing Public Housing 2019-24 plan released today comes on top of the ACT Housing Strategy the Government announced last October under which $100 million will be injected into the growth and renewal of the public housing portfolio.

The Government says the $100 million investment will enable the Government to add 200 homes to the portfolio and set in motion the sale and renewal of old properties, the proceeds of which will be reinvested in new and updated public housing stock.

Under the plan, the Government will also demolish about 300 older dwellings that no longer meet the needs of tenants but are close to shops, school, transport and services and replace them with about 700 new dwellings.

It plans to build 360 new dwellings in new suburbs through the Indicative Land Release Program, in which 15 per cent of sites will go to new public, community and affordable housing, and purchase 140 homes from the private market to further the salt and pepper approach to housing, where homes will be located in as many suburbs as possible.

Homes will be sited close to services, jobs and transport, diverse in range, energy efficient, and adaptable, for people with disabilities and the elderly.

The plan does not say which public housing sites deemed at the end of their life will be sold but there are rich pickings in the inner north, such as Ainslie. The sale of public housing sites in the inner south in March reaped the Government $84 million.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry said the plan would commence at the start of the 2019-20 financial year, at the completion of the current Public Housing Renewal Program that has nearly completed the renewal of 1288 homes.

There are currently 11,700 homes in the public housing portfolio and by 2024 there are expected to be 200 more housing 23,500 people. New homes are projected to number 1060, with 1000 to be renewed.

“Over the ten years to 2024, the ACT Government will have invested more than one billion dollars in public housing and renewed approximately 20 per cent of the public housing portfolio,” she said.

“This unprecedented investment in public housing demonstrates the ACT Government’s commitment to supporting low income and disadvantaged Canberrans.

“Through the Growing and Renewing Public Housing 2019-2024 plan, the Government will improve tenant experience, provide more public housing and contribute to building a progressive and inclusive city that supports vibrant local communities.”

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When are we going to stop believing this annual story about selling off existing public housing stock to build additional housing on top of the original dwelling count.

Every budget they sneak in a late change that doesn’t see the promised public housing increase actually delivered.

How about the ACT housing minister start delivering on a decade of public housing promises before making even more empty claims.

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