In investigation into the provision of community housing in Canberra
has recommended the ACT government partner with the private sector to
grow the dwelling stock in the ACT.
Housing advocacy group ACT Shelter has also urged a
whole-of-government mind shift in the delivery of this form of housing
away from the current approach "which tends to be paternalistic".
ACT Shelter will release a report on Wednesday calling for a
more united approach to building community housing in the Territory.
Community housing is rental housing provided by
not-for-profit, non-government organisations that is affordable and
appropriate for low- to moderate-income earners. In the ACT there are
just a handful of associations managing about 660 dwellings. These
groups include the Havelock Housing Association, Argyle Community
Housing and Capital Community Housing.
ACT Shelter executive officer Leigh Watson said the key
recommendation from the report was to develop innovative partnership
options in redeveloping public housing stock and building new projects.
The approach, which occurs in other jurisdictions, involves a community
housing provider, the government and a developer/builder.
Ms Watson said the redevelopment of the ABC flats in Braddon
and Reid would provide the perfect opportunity to deliver a mix of
housing including public, community, affordable and regular market
"It's a holistic approach - it's all about everyone being integrated and all together and being a community," she said.
Ms Watson said the report had been given to the government and she hoped for a positive response.
"It's really clear that the government has to develop a strategy around the development of community housing," she said.
"While housing generally is the responsibility of a range of
stakeholders - including the community sector - at the end of the day,
housing for people on low to
middle incomes has to be delivered by the government."
Ms Watson said while other people could be involved, such
projects would not work without the initial backing and future support
of the government. The Community Housing Options for Growth paper said the development of community housing in the ACT was not consistent with what was occurring in other jurisdictions.
The report said it was clear that a shortage of affordable
housing for people on low and middle incomes was having an impact on the
homelessness rate in the ACT.
An increase in the public housing waiting list, more people
needing supported accommodation and seeking emergency accommodation, and
overcrowding and couch surfing, were listed as evidence of the problem.
"The ACT has the lowest level of community-managed housing in
the nation, offering the least choice for households in need," the
"As a consequence the sector is generally struggling to
acquire the skills and experience provided to their interstate cousins
through regular training and information provided by private
organisations and peak bodies."
Other recommendations included stock transfer of public
housing and management outsourcing as a means to increase social housing
and providing input into national policy initiatives that will have a
direct benefit for the ACT.