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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Historic Partnership To Deliver New Affordable Housing -

Historic Partnership To Deliver New Affordable Housing - Paul Lennon, MHA - Tasmanian Government Media Releases

At least 700 new affordable houses will be built in Tasmania under a new $130 million partnership between the State Government and the community sector, the Premier announced today.


Mr Lennon signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and six key community organisations to form a new Affordable Housing Organisation.


The State Government will contribute $24 million to the AHO over the first four years as well as making $35 million worth of public land available for community housing developments in the South, North and North-West.


The arrangement will lever $105 million worth of investment in public housing by private developers to help ease existing shortages ? also creating work for 1,000 construction industry employees.


Mr Lennon said the first parcels of land would be released in February and the State Government was close to completing bilateral agreements to build affordable housing with community groups Onecare and STEPS, which was expected to see construction begin almost immediately.


?This is the biggest-ever single affordable housing program in Tasmania?s history,? Mr Lennon said.

?The new approach to public housing will provide homes for more than twice as many Tasmanians who are already on the category one, or most urgent, waiting list.


?This is a sustainable way of increasing the stock of affordable housing in Tasmania into the future.


?The partnership we have formed with the community sector delivers a system that moves away from the short-term focus on one-off capital programs and provides an ongoing strategic approach.


?It is a long-term, forward-thinking innovative solution that builds on the successes of the Affordable Housing Strategy.?


Mr Lennon said the State Government would increase its commitment over time as demand required.


He said the new approach represented better value for taxpayers and more public housing for Tasmanians most in need.


The $95 million Affordable Housing Strategy had delivered more than 300 new public houses, whereas under the AHO, the State Government would invest $24 million to create at least 700 new homes for vulnerable Tasmanians.


?This is clearly a better deal all round and it will help secure a better future for Tasmanians in greatest need,? Mr Lennon said.


?We have to keep thinking outside the square and looking at what is the best way of meeting community needs while spending taxpayers? money responsibly.


?The new Affordable Housing Organisation will lever off private sector developers to boost Tasmania?s public housing stock in a way that we couldn?t hope to achieve by the State Government building and owning all new properties itself.?


Under the partnership deal, the AHO will enter into head lease agreements with the private sector to build new affordable housing stock.


Developers would have guaranteed rental income for at least 10 years, with the AHO to sub-lease to families on the Housing Tasmania waiting list.


The State Government?s funds to the AHO would be used to underwrite leases to tenants, providing the security needed to make the AHO attractive to investors.

Non-Government organisations that have today committed to the Community Housing Organisation MoU are Anglicare, STEPS, Southern Cross Care, Onecare, Centacare Tasmania and the Salvation Army.


This group, to be led by Rev Chris Jones from Anglicare, has been tasked with setting up the AHO.


Mr Lennon said the State Government took its core social responsibility of providing public housing very seriously.


The Premier said Government officials had been working closely with the community sector on the best way of moving forward since the announcement of a $3 million-a-year public housing injection in his State of the State speech.


Today?s announcement doubles that commitment.


?This year, we have spent a record $112 million on public housing in Tasmania ? that?s up 44 per cent on when we came to office,? the Premier said.


?However, we recognise more needs to be done to meet the need in the community and I?m confident that by working with our community partners and the private sector, we can deliver better results into the future.


?We have done a lot of work on how best to deliver sustainable long-term affordable housing in Tasmania.


?We?ve worked with the Macquarie Bank on possible solutions and we gained valuable insight into how best to tailor an affordable housing partnership to suit Tasmania?s needs.

?We need a sustainable way of increasing the stock of affordable housing into the future.

?The new system that I announce today moves away from the short-term focus on one-off capital programs to an ongoing, strategic approach.?

Mr Lennon said the public land to be made available would be spread across the State in areas such as Glenorchy, New Norfolk, George Town, Newstead, East Devonport and Ulverstone.

He stressed that the AHO would not oversee a return to ?broadacre? housing developments.?The Affordable Housing Organisation will deliver a permanent, sustainable approach, drawing on the combined resources of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for years to come,? Mr Lennon said.

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