Labor budget reply: Labor vision for affordable housing

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NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has unveiled a vision for more affordable housing in his first Budget reply speech that sets out Labor’s policy platform. 

In a speech that advances positive solutions for the NSW’s housing challenges, Mr Foley is advocating the transferal of 20,000 homes owned by the NSW Government to the community housing sector to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars of Commonwealth grants to be reinvested into new houses.

The plan for the transferal of government housing stock to the not for profit sector could enable the building of 2,000 new homes that would allow key public sector workers like police officers and nurses  to live and work in the communities they serve.

In his speech, Mr Foley said: “Public housing was great Labor reform and thousands of people rely on it for one of life’s essentials –a place to call home. But today the public housing system needs reform.

“The Auditor General has told us that public housing is ‘increasingly not fit for purpose’ and that current arrangements are not meeting contemporary demands.

“NSW currently has 140,000 social housing dwellings. Of these, 111,000 have the NSW Government as landlord, while not-for-profit community housing associations act as landlords for the other 29,000.

“We should build on their success and transfer more of the Government’s stock to the community housing sector. The transfer should include title to the properties to empower the associations with the leverage they need to fund the construction of new and additional affordable housing stock.

“As a first step, 20,000 existing public housing dwellings should be transferred from the government to community housing associations. The associations are already there—keen to do more. Let’s give them the chance to succeed.

“Existing tenants, the users of social housing, will benefit because the associations are closer to them and avoid the characteristics of old style monolithic bureaucracies. This is an area of public policy where I believe the not-for-profit sector will do better than the state.

“Over time all of the state’s public housing should be transferred to not-for-profit community housing associations. They are more responsive and they are best placed to lift the quality and quantity of social housing stock.

“The provision of social housing is central to government’s responsibility to its community. It delivers dignity for all. The opportunity to do better exists now.”