Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Jenny Gal­braith

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.

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