Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek and ANU Vice Chancellor Ian Chubb today announced that the university’s application for National Rental Affordibility Scheme was a success and as a result it would build accomodation for 1023 students on City West land supplied by the Territory.
Set to open in 2012, the accomodation will be built uni-lodge style including communal areas and a dining hall with $70 million worth of Federal funding and $28 million worth of ACT land.
The NRAS provides $9140 per annum per dwelling, CPI indexed, in exchange for their rental at 20 per cent below market rate.
Minister Plibersek said the average cost for accommodation would be about $225 a week at 20 per cent below market rate, saving tenants about $56.
While the ANU, the Commonwealth and the Stanhope Government have all reiterated that this is affordable housing designed for low income earners, Youth Allowance rates in Australia are the same or lower than the proposed rent and it doesn’t look like food is included.
The housing will only be open to ANU students and preference will be given to people from outside Canberra.
In Melbourne the Uni-Lodge student housing developments lining Swanston Street have become almost exclusively occupied by international students, like at ANU the “affordable housing” moniker is used despite rents being beyond the average base income of a local student.
Whether the ACT Government is including the student accommodation in its commitment to constructing affordable housing is unclear.
ANU couldn’t tell CityNews if they had a target group of students in mind, but that they weren’t having any trouble filling any accommodation as it was built, in fact they had “waiting lists”.
National Union of Students President Carla Drakeford told CityNews she was a lot happier to have accommodation run by a university, ANU Vice Chancellor Ian Chubb insisted the projects were not profit driven.
“More needs to be done on the Government’s end,” Drakeford said, “Accommodation is one thing, another is adequate student support and Youth Allowance.”
“But we are a lot happier with NRAS because uni’s retain control of the accommodation and there’s less opportunity for corporate rip-off of students.”
Chief Minister Stanhope’s office have informed CityNews, “The ACT Government’s land commitment is not part of our Affordable Housing Action Plan.”