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The State Budget has finally been handed down and the government is blowing its own trumpet in regards to the $800m spend on social housing, which includes $200m on well-overdue maintenance. As an advocate for social and affordable housing, am I celebrating? No, I’m sorry – instead I remain frustrated at the lack of ongoing serious investment in the sector. Why?
- First, for the size and population of NSW, $800m is actually quite a small amount. Add this to decades of under-investment (often worse than this year) and this budget is a steady as she goes, let’s do a little more than the bare minimum required budget. Good for some self-generated spin, but I’m sorry no applause from me.
- Second, with 130,000 properties on their books with an average age of property now over 50 years, what does $200m buy in terms of maintenance? That’s around $1,500 per unit of housing and once again that does not buy very much.
- Third, a lot in this announcement appears to have been announced already for the last three or four years. Social housing re-developments through Communities Plus have been promised for a long time and little achieved apart from the commenced re-build at Macquarie Park and now in the South-West. There’s nothing like re-re-re-announcement of funds already promised, triple bang for your buck.
- And last but not least: although the Treasurer mentioned affordable housing in his speech, there is little or nothing that will stimulate any investment in affordable housing from this budget.
Sorry to rain on the parade, but my minute is just about up. We have lost out on a great opportunity both nationally and now state-wide, to deliver significant economic and employment boosts by providing exactly what is needed in this country – safe, secure and affordable housing. Small steps in the right direction but nothing transformative.
Thanks for being part of our network. From all of us here at Churches Housing we wish you all a restful, safe and enjoyable Christmas.
Magnus and the CHI staff team (Pip, Rob and Kathy)