Berry denies large public housing site sales on agenda

ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry has claimed the government would not sell any of its remaining large public housing sites, despite there being some 13 large sites still on the books.

But Ms Berry has not ruled out selling Canberra's largest remaining sites in the future, with 13 blocks of land with between 51 and 100 dwellings.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Housing Minister Yvette Berry. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

During a heated question time debate on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Alistair Coe challenged the minister to specify what she meant by "large" sites, asking her to identify which actual sites remained on the table for sale.

It came as Ms Berry began outlining the detail of a $500 million public housing sell-off to invest the money in new housing in the second phase of the government's controversial urban renewal agenda.

But Ms Berry said the government had no "large" sites, having sold the biggest during the city's first housing renewal, which will redevelop 1288 dwellings by the end of the fiscal year.

But beyond the 13 remaining sites with up to 100 dwellings, it also owns a further 32 blocks with between 21 and 50 dwellings each.

It also owns a further 88 sites across the city with 10 to 20 dwellings, the smallest of the government's current multi-unit stock which could yet be sold.

Those politicians who want to invest ... can invest in Canberra's people, not just its bricks and mortar.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry

Ms Berry said the focus now would not be on large multi-unit sites, but on selling smaller sites across the territory, without specifying which ones could be sold first.

Asked whether the almost 100-unit Kanangra Flats property, on a prominent Reid site on Ainslie Avenue, would be sold off, Ms Berry's spokeswoman said only that it would not be sold in 2019-20, leaving the door open to a later sale.

The minister was peppered with questions about the specific nature of new renewal plans, including whether the planned addition of 200 more dwellings to the territory pool would reduce waiting times for public housing.

But she defended the government's record on "growing" the total pool of public housing, despite regular community criticism of its first renewal program for doing no such thing.

Ms Berry said the solution to all the city's housing affordability issues did not solely rest with building public housing, though the extra dwellings would help those most in need.

She also challenged all local MLAs who owned investment properties - of whom most own at least one - to offer them up for affordable housing under the new government-CHC real estate agency HomeGround to rent to low income Canberrans at less than market rates.

Ms Berry said those politicians who wanted to invest in Canberra could actually invest in its people, as well as its bricks and mortar.

Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur asked whether an affordable housing target of 15 per cent of new land releases and infill sites would also apply to the next stage.

But Ms Berry did not directly answer Ms Le Couteur's question, instead referring to location issues discussed earlier.