Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Australians in New Affordable Homes for Christmas

Thousands of families across the country are preparing to spend their first Christmas in a new, secure, affordable home built with Gillard Government funding.

More than 1,500 families have moved into new social housing homes this year and more than 20,000 people on low to moderate incomes are living in new affordable rental homes built under the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“The Gillard Government understands the importance for all Australians of having a safe, secure, affordable home,” Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor said.

“That’s why we have invested an unprecedented $20 billion in housing and homelessness programs and services since coming to office.

“We are building 21,000 new social housing homes, with almost 19,500 completed and repairs and maintenance carried out on 80,000 existing homes. Already, almost 10,000 people who would have been homeless are living in these homes.

“We have built almost 11,000 affordable rental homes, with another 40,000 to come.

“In fact, we have made a direct financial contribution to one in every 20 homes built around the nation since 2008.

“I’m proud that so many families will be spending Christmas in a new home this year, with confidence that they will be able to afford the rent into the future.”

The $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative helps low income Australians who are homeless or struggling in the private rental market and is the single largest investment in social housing ever undertaken by an Australian Government.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme provides an incentive to investors to build new homes and rent them to low and middle income tenants at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below market rents.

“This means families and individuals will save more than $26 million in rent over 2011-12 year,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Housing Affordability Fund and Building Better Regional Cities program are helping to build roads, parks, sewers and other infrastructure needed for new housing developments to keep the costs down for home buyers.

“One of the most important things any federal government can do for housing affordability is to keep the economy strong so that interest rates are as low as possible,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The official cash rate is lower now than at any time under the Howard Government and is less than half the rate we inherited in 2007.

“But we know that more needs to be done.

“One of the best ways to improve housing affordability is to increase housing supply, and we are working with the States and Territories to improve planning processes and land release strategies.

“We believe all Australians deserve a safe, secure home, and we will continue to work to provide affordable housing for Australia’s most vulnerable people.”

Case Studies:

In Hobart, single mother Nicole Williams and her three-year-old son moved into their three-bedroom open-plan house in January.

“We were living in an old Housing Department home and the owner put the rent up,” Nicole said.

“This place is so much better. It’s a brand new house with heating and cooling – my power bills are nothing now – and location-wise it is amazing. My son goes to the most beautiful school.

“It’s easy to maintain the lawns, and as a single mum that’s important. It’s wonderful and it has made my life 10 times easier.”

The part-time aged care worker saw the National Rental Affordability Scheme advertised online and was pleased to find she met the eligibility criteria.

In Adelaide, pensioners Patricia and Richard Fox moved from a Housing SA house into an energy-efficient two bedroom townhouse in a development managed by Anglicare SA.

“We came from a pretty bad area and it was a traumatic four years living there,” Richard said.

“These are fantastic units and it’s a great lifestyle.

“We’ve got a couple of solar panels on the roof and it all helps when you’re a pensioner.”

In Brisbane, Anne* and Graham*, a young couple with three children under four, have moved from a small home into a brand new, four-bedroom house with a garden and garage.

“It’s so much better than the old place. There’s room for the kids to play,” Anne said.

The family pays $280 a week in rent – $70 lower than the market rate in their suburb, allowing Anne to stay at home with the children.

(*The couple has requested their real names not be used)

Contact details are available for tenants.