ACT News

New community housing units open in Watson to help families in need

Two new two-bedroom units in Watson will soon provide affordable rental housing to people on low to moderate incomes.

ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry handed the keys over to the Environmental Collective Housing Organisation (ECHO) on Tuesday.

Treasurer of ECHO Peter Sutherland gets the keys from Housing Minister Yvette Berry.
Treasurer of ECHO Peter Sutherland gets the keys from Housing Minister Yvette Berry. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

ECHO is assessing its tenant profile from the ACT government's social housing register for two families of up to four people who meet the criteria for the homes.

Treasurer Peter Sutherland said he is looking at a person with a low paying job or a part-time job, such as a single parent with two or three kids.

"That's the sort of family structure that we'll have here because they can afford to pay the rent that we will set, which is just less than the market rent [by 25 per cent]. There is that group who can't afford private rental but can't get into public housing either."

ECHO is a not-for-profit association that supports 42 tenants through 33 low cost community housing across Canberra's inner north. In exchange for the new Watson homes, they had let go of a three-bedroom property in Braddon, which would either be sold or redeveloped.

Ms Berry said the ACT government upholds 20 per cent of affordable housing through new housing developments, including in Moncrieff, Lawson and the Molonglo Valley.

She also stressed the ACT government had the largest social housing stock per capita and twice the national average, with 30 dwellings per 10,000 people.

"But it has been good to see the conversation happening nationally about the levers that we don't have control over, such as negative gearing and capital gains tax," she said.

"And whether that will have an effect on people's ability to buy into homes of their own."

As part of this conversation, the St Vincent de Paul Society is pushing for a $10 billion national social and affordable housing fund to address housing and homelessness issues.

It is also recommending a National Housing Plan, recognition of the human right to housing, and a commitment to halve homelessness and housing shortfall by 2025.

St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Dr John Falzon said the paper is an effort to tackle the serious shortfall of 500,000 dwellings nationally.

"A $10 billion injection of funds into social and affordable housing can be paid for responsibly by reforms to negative gearing and capital gains tax along with already-identified changes to superannuation tax concessions and the closing of tax loopholes," he said.

"Having a place to call home is something that everyone should be able to experience."

The plan was to be presented to Parliament on Wednesday.