House of Assembly: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Public Housing

Mrs PEARCE (King) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Human Services. Can the minister update the house on the government's additional investment in public housing?

The Hon. N.F. COOK (Hurtle Vale—Minister for Human Services) (14:42): I thank the member for this question and her commitment to ensuring that more South Australians have a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. Before the last election, we recognised the challenges in the housing market and committed an extra $177.5 million to public housing for 400 new homes and major upgrades on 350 vacant properties. After the election, we found the previous government had left plans in place to reduce public housing by 700 homes from 2022 to 2026.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. N.F. COOK: This was due to a combination of planned sales and only having enough funding to replace some of the homes that faced demolition because they were too old or damaged to repair. Even with our significant investment of extra funds, we faced the prospect of public housing going backwards in a housing crisis, so we drew a line in the sand and said that couldn't happen.

We cancelled the planned sale of 580 homes. We boosted our election commitment funding by another $55.2 million, bringing our total extra investment in public housing to $232.7 million from 2022 to 2026. These policies meant we could stop the decline in public housing, replace homes that were falling over and, mostly importantly, see real growth in public housing for the first time in a generation. Today marks an important milestone because we have now completed more than 100 new homes linked to our extra funding.

This morning in Hectorville I joined one of our fantastic building partners, the Brazzale family, to see the 100th new home. Three generations of the Brazzale family have been working on public housing projects since the early 1990s. This really does demonstrate the importance of public housing to both tenants and local businesses. They tell me they have built around 500 homes for our public housing system over the decades. We thank them and, indeed, all our partners for their work.

These new homes they have built for us in Hectorville are quite literally the gold standard. They meet the gold level of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines, which means they are more accessible and adaptable for everyone whether they are older, experiencing disability or have other needs. The new homes have been allocated to people from our housing register who face homelessness and a range of other challenges.

In addition to 102 new homes that are already complete, another 110 are currently under construction, 91 are out for tender and another 84 are going out for tender in coming months. This work is on top of the ongoing building programs undertaken by the South Australian Housing Authority to replace ageing stock and provide affordable housing for purchase by low and moderate income households.

At a time when we are hearing about a slowdown in new home construction, the work of the SA Housing Authority, Renewal SA and our partners in the community housing sector is more important than ever, particularly for delivering new homes in great locations near transport, schools and services. This work often involves replacing larger, older properties with multiple homes that better meet community needs. It results in ups and downs in housing numbers on any given day, but the final outcome is that we are committed to at least 400 more public homes by 2026, replacing hundreds of others to make our system bigger and better. It is important to note that at least 150 of these public homes are being built in regional areas in addition to the work of the new Office for Regional Housing.