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Positives seen for private renters in public housing

ACT Council of Social Services Director Susan Helyar.

ACT Council of Social Services Director Susan Helyar. Photo: Melissa Adams

Incorporating private renters into public housing complexes could help break down the pockets of social disadvantage in Canberra, stakeholders say.

The suggestion has been made amid renewed discussion over public housing, prompted by a recent shooting at the Stuart Flats complex in Griffith.

The current public housing system has created stressful environments for its primarily high-needs residents, who may be exiting the criminal justice system, suffering from substance problems or trying to support a large family, says ACT Council of Social Services director Susan Helyar.

''The biggest challenge to public housing is there has been a move to make it only available to people with high needs,'' she said.

''There is less capacity in those communities for building strength.''

Ms Helyar said the complexes should be adapted to host a combination of public housing, community housing and private rental tenants.

''Where we'd want to go in the future is mixed use,'' she said.

''In the redevelopment of the Fitzroy high-rise public housing estates, mixed tenancies have been successful … CHC Affordable Housing has built the City Edge in O'Connor that has successfully operated for 10 years that integrates social housing, community housing and open-market tenancies and buyers. They are looking to replicate this model in other places in Canberra.''

Mixed developments could attract private renters despite the stigma associated with low-income housing, Ms Helyar said, as well as provide an option for those excluded from the very high rent market in Canberra.

She said such communities could work well when safety or other social problems in public housing were addressed with good tenancy support and access to the services people need.

''We need to both support people in public housing to build positive, safe communities, and we need to address the failure of the Canberra housing market to provide housing options for people on income support and other low incomes,'' she said.

''Nothing drives neighbourhood tension and dissatisfaction like the feeling you are stuck in circumstances you don't control and have no way out of.''

The creation of smaller sites could also be a future option, Housing Minister Shane Rattenbury said. ''We do want to move away from the concentrations of social disadvantage.

''Rather than having just public housing tenants on the same site, we have a broader mix of tenants.''

Mr Rattenbury said the government had no specific plans regarding the Griffith site yet.



  • Yeah, that would be really handy for all the crims and druggies that abound in these areas and would be your neighbours.
    You would never be able to leave your place or car un-attended, if you had anything attractive or sellable it would be stolen in a flash.
    You couldn't pay me to live in high density public housing and I pity the poor decent people who have to.
    Canberra's suburbs aren't much better either.

    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 8:03AM
    • Agreed.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 8:09AM
    • Agreed ! Without sounding up myself, I am a middle class renter! Yep, just because I don't own a property here doesn't exclude me from being financially stable. I decided to not invest my money here in Australia on over priced expenses. In fact I like the freedom of renting. Put me in some place like that surrounded by people who do not do anything good with their lives will kill me. I am 31, I saved hard and bought one property in America and one in Germany total $70k. Never got into debt. I have tenants paying rent to me overseas and then after foreign exchange and taxes, this substitutes the rest of my full time income allowing me to work part time 3 days per week and enjoying putting what ever is left towards my rent here. Yep I have it easy but i decided to create this myself. I would rather die than be placed somewhere like that.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 11:02AM
    • Yeah Dusty - did you read the article? All Housing Commission tenants are "crims and druggies" then. Splendid.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 11:08AM
    • @daveinbalmain...Yeah I read the obviously didn't read my comment.
      I didn't say ALL houso's are crims and druggies.
      I've lived in various parts of suburban Canberra over the decades and been around the block a few times so I'm speaking from my own experiences over 50 years of dealing with & seeing how some houso's live and behave.
      Like I said, I never buy into or live in a houso's'd have to have rocks for brains and couldn't buy a worse piece of strata titled real-estate or property.

      never again urban
      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 12:28PM
    • You only have to be around long enough to remember Canberra public housing sucess stories like Baringa gardens-Melba or Burnie court-Lyons...high rise public housing that was bulldozed into the ground.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 11:47PM
  • I have always said that the ACT govt should stop evicting tenants who have an income. Each ACT govt has sold off houses and flats (your assets) to fund their fripperies and/or to satisfy a developer. Have a look at all the ex-govvie houses, you use to own them, they were a gift for when Canberra got self government to provide a massive income steam for the people of canberra.

    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 8:07AM
    • Why should anyone on a reasonable income be given accommodation by the government at virtually no cost to the tenant but at a to other ratepayers. Being given a government home may be an interiim solution for people finding themselves in difficult situations for a period, however, it is not a right to life-long low cost accommodation. Doesn't make sense to keep them in there and have genuinely needy people on waiting lists.

      As far as selling off government homes is concerned, ex-govies are often run down but may be in a good area so the overall value of that piece of real estae is still reasonably high. The cost of renovating them is expensive and the return they get in low rents for government homes does not make it viable for the government to spend money on them.

      The government should build and manage more caravan parks to provide low cost accomodation for the homeless and ease the demand on rental homes.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 3:52PM
  • We have a couple of three bedroom houses (Gov't stock) in our street and they are all, without exception, eyesores. The tenants do not mow their lawns instead they use them to store derelict cars, they pile verandahs and front yards with old white goods and dirty old sofas. They have mongrel dogs that bark all day and night, and cats that roam the neighbourhood. ACT Gov't should start using the same strict standards that private property managers use - after all, we are the landords, not Gallagher and Co...

    Date and time
    February 22, 2013, 8:29AM
    • Absolutely correct, we have the same situation in our street and it is not fair to the decent people that take pride in their properties. There are dead cars without wheels, old washing machines, broken appliances and toys, washing blowing all over the street as no pegs used and fence palings all gone. It is an eyesore. Let them live next to the pollies and see if it is tolerated. And also wild all night parties that the police won't respond to.

      Date and time
      February 22, 2013, 9:13AM

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