Liberals offer a new approach to public housing

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JEREMY Hanson says a Canberra Liberals Government will deliver a new approach to public housing management as well as innovative reforms to help public housing tenants achieve home ownership.

Nicole Lawder says they’ve announced a five pronged plan for the future of public housing in Canberra.

“First and foremost, the Canberra Liberals will reform the Shared Equity Scheme, whereby eligible tenants can purchase 70% of a Housing ACT Property, with 30% remaining with Housing ACT. Unfortunately there are major barriers to the take-up of this scheme and the Canberra Liberals will fix that,” Nicole said.

“To encourage uptake and help more people transition to home ownership, we’ll explore options to; allow newer properties to be included under the scheme and include properties like duplexes or townhouses.

“Our other plans for housing include:

  • A $125,000 independent review of ACT Public Housing.
  • Implementing the Auditor-General’s 2016 recommendations on public housing management.
  • Conducting an Undeclared Occupant Amnesty for public housing tenants, to ensure proper rent is being paid.
  • Reinforcing public housing tenancy agreements and investigate further reforms to deal with disruptive and unacceptable behaviour.

“Like many aspects of local government management, public housing needs a new approach in the ACT. Our plans will help residents more easily transition to their own home and fix management of the system,” Ms Lawder concluded.

Labor’s Yvette Berry was quick to respond:

Today’s announcement on public housing from the Canberra Liberals does little to ease concerns that they will sell it off as they’ve done in the past.

The Liberals are suggesting we need to ‘rebalance’ public housing allocations yet the ACT runs the most targeted system in the country – 97% of new allocations in public housing and 98% of allocations in community housing were made to households in greatest need.

Labor’s shared equity scheme has supported numerous public housing tenants into home ownership but it has to be carefully managed so as not to put tenants on low incomes under mortgage stress.

If the Liberals are offering to subsidise shared equity purchases with more government funding they need to show how they will pay for it.

If their past record is anything to go by it will be through selling off social housing – the Canberra Liberals sold around 1,000 properties last time they were in government in the ACT.

ACT Labor has worked hard in government to recover this stock and now maintains the most significant social housing system in Australia with 30 dwellings per 1,000 people against a national average of 17 per 1,000.

We found out earlier this week that the Liberals’ go slow on Northbourne Avenue will stop public housing renewal – as well as light rail – dead in its tracks.

For four years the Canberra Liberals have failed to indicate any genuine support for Canberra’s social housing system and refused to say if they would sell off stock or outsource public housing in government as their colleagues in New South Wales are doing right now.

Our housing stock has grown to a value of over $4 billion and supports more than 22,000 tenants – mostly people who’ve faced huge challenges in their lives.

Labor sees social housing as a public asset to be used for the public good and our commitment to renew and grow Canberra’s social housing is in stark contrast to the Canberra Liberals.

[Photo by woodleywonderworks, attribution licence]

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