No affordable homes at old public housing sites
Advertisement

No affordable homes at old public housing sites

None of the new units replacing public housing in Griffith and Narrabundah will be public housing despite the ACT government previously suggesting up to 10 per cent could be.

The government has released plans to sell land for 4080 dwellings by the end of the financial year, earmarking about 13 per cent of them for public, affordable or community housing.

ACT Council of Social Service director Susan Helyar said this would not be enough to help those unable to afford renting or buying a home.

"At least 20 per cent is needed to deal with the failure of the market to deliver housing that is affordable to the 35,000 households in Canberra who live on less than $500 per week before tax," Ms Helyar said.

University of Sydney housing expert Professor Peter Phibbs said the government should push harder with land release targets to push down housing prices.

Advertisement

Former prime minister Gough Whitlam would "roll over in his grave" at the lack of community housing expected in the new suburb bearing his name, Professor Phibbs said.

Loading

The government expects to release sites for 600 dwellings in the new suburb of Whitlam which would include 44 affordable housing units, 32 public housing units but no community housing.

Of the 4080 new dwelling sites in the 2018-19 financial year, only 60 for are for public housing, 20 for community housing and 472 for affordable housing.

"They seem to be holding back on the supply of affordable housing and public housing," Professor Phibbs said.

With redevelopment in full swing in Cooyong Street in the city and large public housing blocks already sold in Northbourne Avenue, the government is turning to the ageing sites of concentrated public housing in the inner south.

When plans were announced four years ago, the government didn't promise that replacement developments would include public housing, but suggested up to 10 per cent could be set aside for the purpose.

But the data released this week shows none of the new developments in the valuable inner south will be public, affordable or community housing.

The former site of 146 public housing units at the Stuart Flats in Manuka will be opened up for 484 apartments.

At the Gowrie Court site in Narrabundah, the 72 public housing units will be replaced by 177 apartments.

Asked why none were affordable or public housing, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate deputy director-general Dr Erin Brady said there was "already a high proportion of social and affordable housing in the inner north and inner south".

Loading

As a result, "the 2018-19 target has seen an increase in social and affordable housing opportunities in Gungahlin, Molonglo, Belconnen and Woden", she said.

Stuart Flats residents have been fighting eviction but Dr Brady said they had now all been moved.

Tenants were still being moved from Gowrie Court in Narrabundah and Strathgordon Court in Lyons.

Developers who bought the blocks would be responsible for demolishing the buildings there now, she said.

The former Strathgordon Court at Lyon near the Woden town centre is also slated for sale in the coming nine months. No new public housing will go there, but 70 of the 704 new dwellings will be affordable housing.

The ACT government defines affordable housing as priced between $330,000 and $434,000, depending on the size of the house.

The government now releases affordable and public housing targets, along with its overall land release targets, each year.

The biggest development fronts are: Whitlam, a new suburb in the Molonglo Valley, where 600 new dwellings will be sold in the year; Lyneham, where sites will be sold for 530 new dwellings; Taylor, where sites for another 500 dwellings will be sold; Strathnairn, the government's joint Ginninderry venture with the Corkhill Brothers, with 300 dwellings to be sold; Wright, with 318 dwellings; and Coombs, with 208 dwellings.

Of the 208 new dwellings in Coombs, 40 of them -or 19 per cent - will be set for affordable housing. At the moment, 25 per cent of Coombs is public or affordable housing.

Loading

None of the 36 new dwellings being released in Moncrieff are public or affordable housing with 28 per cent of the suburb already comprised of public or affordable housing.

No new affordable housing is set to be be built in Tuggeranong.

Canberra's public housing has fallen to 7.1 per cent of the capital's total housing stock with some applicants facing nearly 1000 days for a new home.

Ms Helyar said the ACT government's social inclusion aspirations and voter expectations around affordable housing would not be met if the government did not fix the affordable housing "crisis".

"We continue to call on the ACT government to invest $100 million in a strategy to reduce homelessness and increase affordable housing," Ms Helyar said.

Professor Phibbs said he didn't understand why the government tightly limited its affordable housing supply when people were looking for help in an expensive market.

"Given that new supply potentially would have a significant impact on price levels you'd think in this market a more ambitious target would be appropriate," Professor Phibbs said.

Last financial year, the ACT government did not release any land for public, community or affordable housing in the urban renewal precincts along Canberra's light rail route.

Only 1.3 per cent of sites were released for new public housing in the ACT in the 2017-18 financial year with 0.8 per cent towards new community housing.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in National

Loading
Advertisement