Residents of a new 20-unit public housing development near the Dickson shops began moving in this week, and one tenant, Betty Lowrey, already has her raised garden beds in situ.
Mrs Lowrey said she has been living in a house on the same street as her new place since 1978, and when Housing ACT approached her 12 months ago to discuss the relocation, she was hesitant.
“I felt a bit uncertain about it. But the doctor told me I had to get out of there because of the stairs, with my legs, which made it easier for me to make the decision,” she said.
Speaking outside the sparkling new building on 22 February, ACT Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said the homes built through the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program were designed to provide sustainable, affordable homes that meet the needs of tenants “now and into the future”.
“We all want to have a home that suits our needs, we all have the same hopes and aspirations across the community regardless of your background or your income,” she said.
The 20-unit development replaces four old public housing properties, part of the Government’s commitment to renew 1,000 homes and build 400 new dwellings.
A Tenant Relocation Team works to make the transition as smooth as possible, and each new unit meets a Gold Class Liveable standard and six-star energy efficiency rating.
Housing ACT occupational therapists make design modifications to support the needs of tenants on a case-by-case basis, as their abilities change throughout their lives.
The complex comprised of a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom homes includes a communal garden, secure fencing and electronic gates.
Mrs Lowrey said her new home was “just beautiful” and she loved the security it offered.
There are 138 dwellings under construction as part of the five-year program, and 160 properties have been built or purchased since its inception.
“We want to make sure that homes are in places where people need them and where people want them most, which is in every suburb across the city,” Ms Berry said.
A recent Productivity Report on Government Services found more public housing was urgently needed across Canberra. While the ACT saw an 18% increase in population from 2011 to 2020, the number of public housing dwellings slightly decreased in the same period.
There is currently an 81-day wait for a vacant property, and earlier this month ACT Council of Social Services CEO Dr Emma Campbell said the ACT housing crisis was worsening and the recent ACT Budget provided “little comfort to Canberrans trying to keep a roof over their heads”.
“As the ACT recovers from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, higher investment in housing delivers a high benefit,” she said.
“For every $1 million invested in social housing, GDP is boosted by $1.3 million.”
The 2020-21 Budget allocates $105 million over the next four years to 2023-24 to further boost public housing infrastructure.
Ms Berry told reporters the work that went into the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program should not be underestimated.
She said she was “really proud” of the new development and knew there was more work to do.
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