SOCIAL HOUSING REVOLUTION
WORK ON 23,500 PUBLIC HOUSING DWELLINGS TO CREATE ESTIMATED $22B BUILDING BOOM
PUBLIC housing can end up “trapping people in poverty” but the biggest shake-up of the system in years aims to make it a stepping stone out of disadvantage.
About 23,500 public housing dwellings will be built or replaced across NSW in the next 10 years, which will bring about a $22 billion “building bonanza” and redress long-term estate neglect, Public Housing Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Sunday.
The State Government will hand over 35 per cent of social housing to community housing providers and engage the non-government and private sector to help build the new dwellings.
Tenants will be offered pathways out of social housing, including removing disincentives to employment and requiring main- tenance contractors to provide jobs.
Around a quarter of the housing stock in Mt Druitt is public housing, which makes it one of the largest social housing areas in NSW.
Stephen McIntyre, chief executive of Wentworth Community Housing, one of the major providers of social housing across Mt Druitt and St Marys, said not-forprofits, the private sector and the government all had a part to play in a rejuvenated system.
“We welcome improvements to the social housing system that increases the likelihood of supporting not only more people into secure housing but, in fact, even over time getting some people back into training, education and employment, and perhaps enable some of those people to make their
incentive to avoid losing eligibility for that benefit, so sometimes people avoid improving their skills and gaining work,” the report said. “As a result, the system that aims to relieve poverty can end up trapping people in poverty.”
A major part of the plan is to reduce the number of children growing up in public housing who take on their own social housing tenancy, by increasing edu- cational and employment opportunities for young people.
Early childhood centres will be opened at some housing estates, and NSW Health will deliver a home visiting program for mothers and babies in social housing areas.
William Rak, of Marist Youth Care, which works with disadvantaged young people across the Mt Druitt and the Blacktown area, said employing youth to help build new social housing could reduce the number entering the system.
“Employment is the way out of the cycle and it’s a great opportunity. If they are responsible for $20 billion of redevelopment, they should be able to create jobs at the same time,” Mr Rak said.
The redevelopment of existing social housing dwellings will require temporary tenant relocations.