15/10/2009 - 00:00

Public housing boost

15/10/2009 - 00:00

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HOUSING Minister Troy Buswell's reform proposals for public housing announced last week could not have come at a better time for national social housing provider Community Housing, which recently announced its intention to move into the Western Australian

Public housing boost

HOUSING Minister Troy Buswell's reform proposals for public housing announced last week could not have come at a better time for national social housing provider Community Housing, which recently announced its intention to move into the Western Australian market.

One of the key reforms proposed by Mr Buswell last week was to enhance the capacity of the community housing network through wider participation of the not-for-profit and private sectors.

That should provide a boost for new providers such as Community Housing and existing growth providers like Northbridge-based Foundation Housing.

Foundation's policy and strategic development manager, Tina Merry, said the proposed reforms would allow providers to deliver a range of tailored options for those currently on the social housing waiting list with differing needs.

Foundation Housing currently has 364 units of accommodation in its development pipeline.

“We have a waitlist of 20,000 in WA, but we actually understand very little about the people who are on it," Mrs Merry said.

“Some of those people would have been on the list for a very long time, but their needs have changed.

“There may be a whole range of options, and the long-term social housing, public housing situation is not right for everybody.

“If we can direct people to the right product we'll get much better outcomes."

Community Housing managing director Steve Bevington said by entering the WA market as the state's fifth registered growth provider, the company would help expand supply at the affordable end of housing.

“We are trying to build housing which really is around $270,000 and $330,000," Mr Bevington said.

“In the WA market that is hard, but that gives us a house that we can (use to) really start to move on the problems at the bottom end."

Mr Bevington said one of Community's priorities was to attempt to alleviate the shortage of housing for people who have been pushed out of the rental market by the growth in house and rental prices.

Community also has five years of experience in indigenous housing, working with Aboriginal communities in the Gippsland and East Gippsland regions of Victoria, and would use this expertise in regional WA.

“We are seeking engagement in a number of areas of WA, principally within the Perth metropolitan region and to the north, hopefully in the Mid-West area, and further north in the Kimberley," Mr Bevington said.

As a vertically integrated housing provider, he said Community had the capability to provide education and training, as well as affordable housing.

Mr Bevington said he was concerned that community housing providers would continue to encounter problems with a lack of access to capital.

“What the government's planned is substantial, [and] what I mean by substantial is they can effectively leverage their own stock through organisations like ourselves, as long as development capital can be sourced," he said.

“There are a lot of calls on development capital at the moment; we're all competing for that reduced amount of credit available."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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