The ACT government will spend $100 million on improvements to public housing and projects to grow the number of affordable dwellings in Canberra, including efforts to kick start the build-to-rent sector.
The upcoming territory budget will earmark $80 million over three years for public housing maintenance and add $19 million to the growing and renewing public housing program.
The budget will also include $720,000 over four years to open an expressions of interest process for firms eager to build and operate long-term affordable rental housing in build-to-rent schemes.
The ACT government is also set to nominate blocks in Turner and Lawson for expressions of interest in a build-to-rent project.
The first stage of a build-to-rent model at the existing common ground site in Gungahlin will receive $640,000 in the 2021-22 financial year.
The funding will cover due diligence work, site feasibility investigations and a concept design, and help the ACT government determine whether it builds and operates the project or another provider does.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has previously stressed the importance build-to-rent projects will have in ensuring Canberra has a steady supply of affordable housing.
Mr Barr told The Canberra Times in May he had been knocking on the doors of industry superannuation funds to attract investment in build-to-rent projects in the territory, pitching the ACT as a simpler jurisdiction to work in with fewer layers of government.
"Money is burning a hole in their pocket and they're looking to make some long-term social investments. They don't need, given where interest rates are, 7 to 11 per cent returns on these things; 3 to 5 [per cent] is fine, particularly over a 20-year, 25-year investment, with a capital gain potentially at the end of that," he said.
"It's worked in other cities. We should be able to make it work here."
Mr Barr said at the time the territory government was actively assessing its land release program looking for potential sites for build-to-rent projects.
The ACT government will also restructure financial support and negotiate a long-term agreement with Community Housing Canberra Limited to manage the government's affordable rental properties.
Housing and Suburban Development Minister Yvette Berry said the budget allocation showed the government was committed to its public housing portfolio.
"In particular, the maintenance funding injection reflects our commitment to continuously improving the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance services to provide homes that suit the diverse needs of our tenants," Ms Berry said.
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The ACT government has previously brushed off calls from the Canberra Liberals to take stock of all public housing dwellings and bring any substandard properties up to scratch.
The opposition spokesman on housing, Mark Parton, had pointed to a high number of complaints from tenants to Housing ACT about maintenance issues.
"I cannot get sensible answers from the government as to why there is this shortfall of maintenance that seems to be occurring now," Mr Parton said in April.
Housing Services Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the government would need to help people find housing as long as it was a market and not a human right. "The $80 million boost to public housing maintenance will ensure that public housing tenants are treated with the respect we would expect from any other landlord, and so people can be proud of their home," she said.
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