ACTCOSS welcomes decision to end mandatory relocations of public housing tenants

15 November 2023

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the ACT Government’s decision to not proceed with mandatory relocations under the Growing and Renewing Public Housing Program.

“We commend the ACT Government for responding to the recommendations made by the ACT Ombudsman, and for listening to the concerns raised by public housing tenants and the community sector organisations that support them,” said Dr Devin Bowles, ACTCOSS CEO.

“While we strongly support the objective of increasing public housing stock and improving the condition of public housing dwellings, this cannot be achieved at the expense of the rights and dignity of current public housing residents.

“We thank the Government for listening to our concerns, and the concerns of tenants facing mandatory relocation. For those living in public housing, we must ensure that tenancies are managed in a compassionate way that respects the dignity and wellbeing of tenants.”

The Growing and Renewing Public Housing Program commenced in 2019, with the objective of delivering 1400 new social housing homes across six years. To fund the Program, the ACT Government sought to relocate tenants from properties which could then be redeveloped or sold to generate revenue.

While the program initially supported tenants to relocate voluntarily, in early 2022 Housing ACT commenced a program of mandatory relocations.

While supporting the decision to end mandatory relocations, Dr Bowles urged the ACT Government to adopt a long-term vision and a fully-funded plan to substantially and sustainably grow public housing in line with community need.

“Despite our growing population, the number of public housing dwellings in the ACT has declined over the past decade, waiting lists have blown-out, and the waiting time to get into public housing is now over five years.

“We need to redouble efforts to grow and rejuvenate public housing in Canberra – but not in a way that relies on forcibly relocating tenants from their home to raise revenue.

“While the cost of growing and renewing public housing to meet community need will be significant, not acting will come with even greater costs to society and the economy, which will be felt by generations to come,” said Dr Bowles.

For more information or comment, please contact
Devin Bowles, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0413 435 080 or 02 6202 7200

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