24 April 2024

Second stage of $35.2m program to bring public housing insulation up to scratch kicks off

| Claire Fenwicke
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worker installing insulation

New minimum standards for ceiling insulation in public and community housing come into effect in November 2026. Photo: File.

Up to 5000 Housing ACT homes and about 200 community housing properties are expected to benefit over the next three years from a $35.2 million program to bring their specifications up to national standards.

The jointly-funded Home Energy Support: Public Housing Program provides ceiling insulation upgrades to the minimum standard for older housing stock, as well as additional electrification upgrades.

Approximately 585 public and 70 community housing properties have received ceiling insulation upgrades through Phase 1 of the scheme, while an additional 280 electric appliance upgrades were also completed.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry said it was about making sure no one was left behind as standards improved and as the ACT moved towards net zero emissions.

“Public housing tenants don’t have the same opportunities as the rest of us in being able to afford to do these kinds of upgrades themselves, nor should they,” she said.

“[It’s also about making sure] that public housing tenants who move into older properties have the same kinds of benefits as if they were moving into newer properties.”

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Four providers have been procured to deliver phase 2 of the program which is expected to take place over the next three years.

Ceiling insulation will be installed in about 670 public housing properties between March and 30 June 2024.

The ACT Government has also contributed $7.2 million for further gas-to-electric appliance upgrades, including for hot water systems, cooktops and reverse-cycle air conditioning.

A survey of tenants who have benefitted from the program found 86 per cent had seen a difference in both their bills and the comfort of their homes.

“Public housing tenants deserve to live in homes that are comfortable, secure and that have the features they need,” Ms Berry said.

“Canberra winters and summers can be particularly harsh, and these upgrades will allow public housing tenants to live more comfortably while saving on their utilities bills.”

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Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury said the program had proven benefits for tenants and the government.

“This will make sure the ACT Government is compliant with the new minimum standards for ceiling insulation for all rental properties,” he said.

“As the biggest landlord in the Territory we have a particular responsibility, and this program will ensure we are delivering on those responsibilities.”

The upgrades are only occurring in Canberra’s older public and community housing properties.

The new ceiling insultation minimum standard needs to be adhered to by November 2026.

The program also progresses a commitment under the current Parliamentary and Governing Agreement to ensure a just energy transition for lower income households.

“This program delivers energy bill savings and improved comfort for residents, while helping to cut emissions by improving efficiency and switching households off gas,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This is an important part of our work to ensure a just transition that supports those who most need assistance and shows that climate solutions can also help to address the cost-of-living crisis.”

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