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Friday, May 14, 2021
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Greens call for more money in ACT social housing

Calls are being made for the ACT to follow suit, after the NSW Government committed $36 million towards permanent social housing for rough sleepers.

The NSW initiative will invest in hundreds of units on the rental market, charging 25 per cent of the future tenant’s income in rent.

ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee Caroline Le Couteur is urging the ACT Government to adopt a similar strategy.

“I have called for this many times in the past, but now the NSW Government has announced $36 million to buy houses and provide accommodation for rough sleepers,” she said. 

“If NSW can do it, I am calling on the ACT Government to do it as well.”

ACT Minister for Housing & Suburban Development Yvette Berry said the ACT Government had been working on its own social housing initiatives to tackle the cause.

“$100 million is, right now, being invested to renew 1000 public housing homes and build 200 new public housing homes,” she said. 

“The renewal of public housing is set to generate $600 million that will be reinvested into growing and renewing public housing in the ACT.”

She also stated $3 million had been dedicated to support services for homelessness and family violence in response to COVID-19.

This money has been invested in upgrading and fast-tracking emergency and long-term accommodation.

Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT CEO Jeremy Halcrow said he would like to see the NSW Government’s strategy also adopted in the ACT.

“Anglicare welcomes any moves that would see similar housing assistance implemented in the ACT,” he said.

“In the midst of recent upheaval caused by bushfires and COVID, tragically those who were already vulnerable and struggling with a lack of stable housing are now at risk of being forgotten.”

Mr Halcrow said he hoped the ACT Government also needed to focus on social housing wait times in the region.

“Reduced wait times for people seeking access to social housing are desperately needed in the Canberra region as the numbers of families presenting at our emergency relief hubs continues to grow,” he said.

“Seeing more families falling into housing stress while rental rates increase is extremely concerning for community services like ours.”

Ms Le Couteur said she was pleased to see action from the ACT Government in response to the pandemic, but said they needed to do more.

“The positive thing during COVID is the ACT Government has funded some short-term temporary accommodation — those are really great because things have become dire,” she said.

“But this is a long-term problem, it’s not just a COVID-19 problem. That accommodation needs to be funded on a permanent basis, not on a short-term basis and we need to have more of it.”

The ACT Greens are calling on the government to commit funding to building the second part of Gungahlin’s Common Ground, an accommodation facility catering to low income earners and chronically homeless people.

While a second Common Ground in Dickson is under construction, Ms Le Couteur said the Gungahlin building also needed to be fast-tracked.

Minister Berry said she hoped this opportunity would arise.

“Common Ground Dickson will provide 40 social and affordable homes to support the needs of a mix of tenants, particularly women and children,” she said. 

“This project builds on the success of Common Ground in Gungahlin. I look forward to the ACT Greens supporting the fast-tracking of this project if the opportunity arises.”

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