ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Joint media release: Calls for social housing to be prioritised in tomorrow’s ACT Budget

8 February 2021

Leaders from across the housing and community sector have today written to the Minister for Housing, Yvette Berry MLA, calling for the ACT Government to match its significant investments in infrastructure projects, such as light rail and renewable energy, with similar investments in social housing.

The letter, signed by the Community Housing Industry Association ACT (CHIA), ACT Shelter and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS), highlighted concerning trends revealed in last month’s Productivity Commission Report on Government Services (ROGS).

The 2019-2020 ROGS data for the ACT revealed: persistent overcrowding in public housing dwellings; a significant increase in the turn-around time for public housing occupancy meaning tenants are waiting on average 81 days to move into a vacant property; and growing numbers of people on the public housing waiting list, including the addition of nearly 200 people assessed as being in the greatest need.

These trends were compounded by an overall reduction in public housing dwellings since 2011. Between 30 June 2011 and 30 June 2020 the ACT saw an 18% increase in population. However, the ROGS showed that the number of public housing dwellings decreased from 11,063 to 10,985 in the same period. 

Andrew Hannan, CHIA Chairperson said: “The ACT has the lowest rate of community housing as a proportion of all social housing of any state of territory. Our Community Housing Provider member organisations call for innovative policies, matched by serious investment, to unlock their ability to build more homes for Canberrans on low incomes. Our members have an important role to play in investing alongside the ACT Government to help deliver on the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement commitments to grow the social and affordable rental supply.”

Travis Gilbert, ACT Shelter CEO said: “We welcome the recent announcement of $2.6 million for the ACT’s homelessness services. However, the ROGS data showed an overall increase in demand for homelessness services between the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 reporting years. The report also highlighted that there is a 22 per cent increase in unmet need among clients presenting to homelessness services for accommodation support.”

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “The aggregate data from ROGS confirms the information that community services hear regularly from Canberrans accessing services. This includes reports of women and children escaping domestic violence unable to secure appropriate accommodation, increasing levels of dissatisfaction with public housing, and older Canberrans facing homelessness.

“While we welcome the commitments outlined in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement, vulnerable Canberrans in housing stress do not have the luxury of time.

“The ACT is facing an ongoing housing crisis. We are calling on the ACT Government to match its significant investments in infrastructure projects, such as light rail and renewable energy, with similar investments in social housing.”

For more information or comment, please contact:
Travis Gilbert, CEO, ACT Shelter, on 0437 166 610
Andrew Hannan, Chairperson, CHIA, on 0404 861 896
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617