The ACT Council of Social Service today expressed deep concern following a report in the Canberra Times that a large number of newly built ACT Housing properties were left sitting empty for well over a year as bureaucrats wrangled over revenue models.
CEO of ACTCOSS, Dr Emma Campbell said: “If the Canberra Times report is accurate, the community deserves a full explanation from the Minister responsible.
“We need to urgently understand why there was such a long delay in making these properties available to vulnerable Canberrans and their families.”
The Canberra Times report said that “more than 30 ACT Government-owned units in Kaleen sat empty for 15 months despite worsening housing affordability in Canberra because officials sought a better rental revenue deal”.
It also stated that Housing ACT originally blamed COVID-19 and bushfires for the delay when, in fact, the houses were left empty because of ACT Government delays in determining a model for a community housing provider to manage the units.
Dr Campbell said: “The ACT has a housing crisis. Research shows that the ACT has a shortfall of around 3000 social houses, while almost 1600 people in the ACT are homeless.
“On average, applicants for standard public housing wait 3.5 years for a home. The 2020 Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot found that no private rentals in Canberra and Queanbeyan were affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension, JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment Single without the Coronavirus supplement.
“Following the alarming revelations in today’s newspaper report, ACTCOSS has written to the ACT Minister for Housing asking for a full and urgent explanation of this situation,” Dr Campbell concluded.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.