The ACT Council of Social Service has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement of a $61 million investment in public housing, including the construction of 60 public housing properties, taking the total number of additional public housing dwellings promised under the Strategy to 260.
The announcement also includes building upgrades and energy efficiency improvements to existing stock.
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “Data released for National Homelessness Week shows that the ACT has a shortfall of 3,000 social housing dwellings, while almost 1,600 people in the ACT are homeless.”
“ACTCOSS welcomes this much needed investment in public housing to meet the growing needs of Canberrans at risk of homelessness.”
The ACT Government said that the additional dwellings would focus on housing for people with a disability and older Canberrans through Class C adaptable builds.
Dr Campbell continued: “More adaptable housing is welcome to ensure appropriate homes are available for people with a disability and older Canberrans. The lack of adaptable and visitable housing results in social isolation and premature entry into nursing care for too many ageing Canberrans as well as people with a disability.
“These investments are vital at a time when increasing numbers of people are vulnerable to the impacts of an economic downturn. Since December last year, the number of people receiving a JobSeeker payment has more than doubled. From September 25, a person on JobSeeker will lose $300 per fortnight and face the prospect of a further cut just after Christmas.
“We know that even with temporary increases to income support payments there is almost no private rental housing in Canberra which is affordable to people on income support.
“That’s why we need work to boost the availability of community housing and lower cost private rental properties.
“ACTCOSS is calling on the Federal Government to include investment in social housing in the 2020-21 Federal Budget and to waive the ACT’s public housing debt under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. ACTCOSS supports the proposal by national housing advocacy groups for Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP) that would deliver urgently needed jobs and provide an immediate boost in social housing.
“More work is needed to build housing that is available to people on low incomes, that is energy efficient, accessible to older Canberrans and people with disability and in locations that enable people to stay connected.
“We need strong community oversight of the ACT Housing Strategy to ensure that implementation is timely and new public housing is constructed across the Canberra region and is located close to transport links, local commerce, social services and community facilities,” Dr Campbell said.
ACTCOSS has also welcomed the ACT Greens $450m election pledge to address homelessness and housing affordability in Canberra. The ACT Liberals are yet to announce their housing policy.
The ACT Government’s public housing announcement can be found here.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.