10/02/2016 - 12:03

Affordable housing gets green boost

10/02/2016 - 12:03

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Some of Western Australia’s lowest income residents may soon be able to access solar panels and other energy efficient devices following the announcement of a $250 million national package aimed at improving existing and helping build greener community housing.

Affordable housing gets green boost
CEFC funding will be used to help build 1,000 new energy efficient community housing units and retrofit existing homes with solar panels, improved insulation, and more energy efficient appliances and lights.

Some of Western Australia’s lowest income residents may soon be able to access solar panels and other energy efficient devices following the announcement of a $250 million national package aimed at improving existing and helping build greener community housing.

The funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be used to help build 1,000 new energy efficient community housing units and retrofit existing homes with solar panels, improved insulation, and more energy efficient appliances and lights, aimed at reducing tenant’s power bills and increasing their comfort.

Foundation Housing general manager Chris Smith told Business News anything that reduced tenants’ bills was important and welcome.

Mr Smith said while community housing buildings, where possible, made use of design to improve living conditions, power bills often represented a major expense for tenants, the majority of whom lived without luxuries like air-conditioning.

He said in an effort to beat WA’s heat, about a quarter of its tenants in the nearly 1,150 community housing units it owned or managed had paid extra to install air-conditioners.

Investment per state and territory in the new national initiative will be driven by local demand and interest in the program, with prominent local community housing providers Foundation Housing and Shelter WA both expressing early interest in accessing the funding.

Shelter WA executive officer Chantal Roberts told Business News she was pleased CEFC’s program coincide with the federal government’s recent moves to establish an affordable housing working group aimed at improving the supply of affordable housing.

Shelter WA looks forward to working with the WA community housing sector to maximise their participation in this program,” she said.

Ms Roberts also called on the working group to work with the CEFC to better understand how its proposed model of providing concessional finance could be applied to social housing investments more broadly.

Housing Minister Colin Holt told Business News while it was anticipated the state government could only access funding through its partnerships with any of the state’s 34 community housing provider organisations, he also welcomed the new funding.

WA's Housing Authority is currently targeting the delivery of 30,000 affordable homes by 2020, after it reached its previous goal of 20,000 homes five years early.

The current waiting time for public housing in WA is 158 weeks, with more than 20,000 people waiting to be approved.

Mr Holt said in 2012 the state began testing whether adding solar PV panels to public housing units was an effective way to assist tenants to reduce their electricity costs.

A total of 412 properties received the solar PV installations in 2013, with savings estimated to be between $250 and $320 a year per home.

“The Public Utilities Office intends to complete a benefits analysis on the trial in the near future,” Mr Holt said.

According to the latest Productivity Commission’s report on government services, 86.7 per cent of Western Australia’s public housing tenants rated the amenity aspects of their home as meeting their needs.

Just over 89 per cent of WA community housing tenants rated their homes’ amenity aspects as meeting the same standards.

These amenities were judged by size of dwelling, modifications for special needs, ease of access and entry, car parking, yard space and fencing, privacy of home and safety and security of home.

The report did not include information on energy efficiency and power costs for community and public housing tenants.

 

 

 

 

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