Supporting those who need it most

20 July 2015

Like a lot of people I know, I grew up in public housing and today there are more than 22,000 people living in public housing across Canberra.

I’m honoured to be the ACT Labor Minister for Housing at a time when our government is delivering a once in a generation renewal of Canberra’s public housing – the largest in the history of self government.

Since the early days public housing provided homes for our public servants and today it’s targeted to those in greatest need to the point where we now have the most highly targeted system in Australia – to make sure it’s allocated to those most in need.

We also provide the highest rate of homelessness accommodation and the highest level of public and social housing compared to the rest of Australia.

While public housing has and continues to play an important part in our growing city, the age of some of our housing stock means it was built to the energy efficiency, accessibility and disability standards of a different time and simply doesn't meet modern expectations and needs.

As part of our renewal program we are replacing 1,288 properties – around 10% of Canberra’s entire public housing stock as part of a four-year program. Homes which will better suit the needs of our tenants, reduce the costs of maintenance, are energy efficient and improve safety and accessibility.

Our renewal program will make sure public housing continues to be distributed across Canberra through the ‘salt and pepper’ approach, is prioritised to those in highest need and supports the inclusion of public housing tenants.

Most new developments will range from 14-25 dwellings. This will be vital to ensure we don’t return to the days of high density multi-unit properties.

As we undertake this renewal we are working with the broader community to deliver appropriate housing that is integrated within each suburb and is indistinguishable from other homes.

We all know that moving house can be daunting so we are making sure that tenants receive one-on-one support to determine how, when and where they want to move as well as other aspects like their individual transport, medical and other support needs.

As part of this Housing ACT is working closely with tenants and community organisations to ensure that every tenant is supported to move in to their new home and will continue to be supported after they move.

This year’s budget includes $159 million for the first round of replacement homes under the public housing renewal program which will deliver new homes for the tenants of 352 public housing properties, most notably those along the Northbourne Avenue corridor.

As well as this ambitious housing renewal program the ACT Government has invested $13 million to deliver Common Ground Canberra which provides 20 units for people experiencing homelessness, and a further 20 units offered as affordable rental accommodation.

The aim of Common Ground is to end chronic homelessness.  It’s not a crisis service or shelter to homeless people – it’s a permanent housing solution.

It’s different from traditional homelessness support services because it locates safe and secure accommodation directly with vital supports and services that are critical to helping tenants get the support they need to help break the cycle of homelessness. 

I think it’s a great measure of our government and our city's character that we continue to invest to provide vital housing and homelessness services for those who need them most and that these works receive so much community support.

As well as providing safe and accessible homes for those who need them most this investment flows through in economic and social benefits across our community.

I look forward to continuing to working with you as part of a progressive government to build an even stronger and more supportive community into the future and deliver for those in need in our communities.