Click on the headings below to see the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about public housing renewal in the ACT.
The ACT Government is undertaking a major long-term program of renewal to replace some of the Territory’s oldest multi-unit public housing properties.
The public housing renewal program will improve outcomes for public housing tenants and support the renewal of Canberra’s urban areas. Up to 1,288 modern residences will be built or purchased to replace the ageing public housing along Northbourne Avenue and other areas in Canberra. For more information on how the program supports Canberra’s urban renewal, visit the Suburban Land Agency website.
Canberra has some of the oldest public housing in Australia. These properties no longer provide appropriate accommodation for many tenants and it is not viable to refurbish them for public housing.
In order to offer good quality public housing that meets the needs of tenants now and in the future, tenants in these older properties will be relocated. No current public housing tenant will become homeless as a result of the program and there will be no reduction in the overall number of public housing dwellings compared to the start of the program.
Public housing is critically important for the ACT community’s overall economic and social well-being. It assists Canberrans on low incomes to reach their potential, to make a contribution and to share the benefits of our community.
The ACT Government supports a socially inclusive approach to public housing. Dispersing public housing and reducing concentrations of disadvantage contributes to a diverse and inclusive community. It provides housing stability and security and helps to break cycles of poverty and homelessness.
More information about public housing in the ACT can be found on the Community Services Directorate website.
‘Salt and peppering’ is the location of smaller-scale public housing throughout Canberra’s suburbs and town centres. The objective is to support diverse and vibrant local communities and to achieve positive social and economic outcomes for tenants and the community more broadly.
Appropriate housing offers a safe and secure foundation for life, providing opportunities for people to realise their potential. The location of public housing throughout the metropolitan area aims to break down barriers to social participation and to link tenants with their surrounding community.
Consistent with the 'salt and pepper' approach, the public housing renewal program is focused on redeveloping older multi-unit public housing sites – some comprising more than 200 units – and replacing them with a mixture of detached houses, compact homes and smaller groups of townhouses and apartments. The construction or purchase of new properties assists to maintain the geographic spread of public housing across the ACT.
The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce considers all potential sites for replacement housing to support some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
The location of replacement public housing is based on where land is available, as well as proximity to services such as shops and transport. This means public housing is being purchased and built in both new and established suburbs.
The percentage of public housing varies from suburb to suburb, and is currently much higher in the Inner North and Inner South areas of Canberra. Consistent with Canberra’s history of ‘salt and peppering’, the Taskforce is locating replacement housing on available sites to spread it more evenly across all areas of the city, including in new neighbourhoods.
Public housing will continue to be ‘salt and peppered’ across the city where there are good connections to employment, public transport networks and support services. This contributes to a healthy and diverse community and provides housing stability and security for vulnerable people.
Dispersing public housing and reducing concentrations of disadvantage is just one way in which Canberra can send a clear signal that it is an inclusive community, and proud of providing housing options for all Canberrans.
Community Facility zoning covers a broad range of uses, including supportive housing. Full details of what is permitted in this zone are in the Territory Plan at www.legislation.act.gov.au.
The definition of supportive housing is:
Supportive housing means the use of land for residential accommodation for persons in need of support, which is managed by a Territory-approved organisation that provides a range of support services such as counselling, domestic assistance and personal care for residents, as required. Although such services must be able to be delivered on site, management and preparation may be carried out on site or elsewhere. Housing may be provided in the form of self-contained dwellings. The term does not include a retirement village or student accommodation.
In developing public housing on Community Facility-zoned land, the Taskforce will meet the requirements for supportive housing as:
- The homes will be used as residential accommodation as part of the ACT Government’s public housing portfolio.
- The dwellings will be allocated under the Housing Assistance Act 2007 to eligible public housing tenants assessed as having housing and support needs that cannot be met by the private rental market.
- The support needs of individual tenants will be assessed by a multi-disciplinary team. Housing ACT will coordinate provision of support.
- Support services will be delivered both on and off site, depending on the needs of the tenants as identified in tenant support plans. Housing ACT will also provide ongoing support, with regular client service visits to all public housing properties in the ACT.
- The dwellings will not be used for the purpose of a retirement village or student accommodation.
As at 24 April 2017, there are 342 public housing dwellings already constructed on Community Facility-zoned land in the ACT. The Taskforce has already completed construction on two sites in Chisholm and Monash, and construction is underway on a third site in Nicholls.
Changes to the Territory Plan in recent years removed a previous restriction which limited supportive housing to the elderly or those with disability. These changes to the planning framework commenced in 2010.
Variation 302 to the Territory Plan was finalised in 2011. This included several changes to the Community Facility Development Code. At this time, following consultation with the community, a new definition of supportive housing was introduced. Further information about Variation 302 remains available on the ACT Legislation Register at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2011-573/20110930-49840/pdf/2011-573.pdf.
In June 2014 a Technical Amendment was completed to ensure Rule 1.1 of the Community Facility Development Code was in line with the policy intention of the code. Further information about this Technical Amendment remains available on the ACT Legislation Register at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2014-275/20140620-58182/pdf/2014-275.pdf.
In December 2015, the definition of supportive housing was clarified by Technical Amendment. This amendment added some extra common terminology to the definitions of the Territory Plan, to provide other examples of what types of developments were already considered to meet the criteria for supportive housing. More information about this Technical Amendment is on the ACT Legislation Register at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2015-704/20151218-62596/pdf/2015-704.pdf.
Supportive housing is housing for those in need of support. This includes public housing where the Community Services Directorate provides a range of supports to help tenants to establish and maintain effective and sustainable tenancies. The tenants will be carefully selected by Housing ACT (with assistance from community service organisations) on the basis of their suitability for the particular type of development in the particular area.
Public housing in Canberra is managed by Housing ACT, part of the ACT Government’s Community Services Directorate. Housing ACT is the largest landlord in the ACT and operates in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 which outlines the rights and responsibilities of Housing ACT tenants.
The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce and Housing ACT work together with a wide range of community service providers and non-government organisations to support tenants to relocate as part of the public housing renewal program.
Once the new properties are occupied, Housing ACT continues to support tenants. If you have a query about a public housing property, please contact Housing ACT.
Housing ACT in conjunction with a variety of support agencies house a diverse range of clients. Housing ACT works with a salt and pepper approach across Canberra suburbs and aims to house a diverse community within individual complexes.
Housing ACT and the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce work closely with all public housing tenants to identify the most appropriate replacement housing for each of them. Some tenants may choose to stay in their current community or to move to an area which better matches their needs and preferences.
The new public housing will be available for all eligible tenants. While it is primarily intended for tenants who are moving from the current multi-unit properties, it will not be limited to these tenants.
Representatives from Housing ACT, the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce and/or representatives from community organisations will engage with public housing tenants before their relocation. An Individual Support Plan is offered to each tenant to guide the relocation process and provide support to individuals in their new communities.
Housing ACT is working with a significant number of community agencies in relation to the public housing renewal program. These agencies are all available to provide additional support to tenants in their new communities.
Designs for all new public housing consider the look and feel of the surrounding community and are energy efficient to reduce running costs.
Key design features for housing constructed under the program include:
- minimum six-star energy ratings
- designs that take advantage of natural sunlight and ventilation
- private open space or generous balconies
- a strong focus on security and privacy
- energy-efficient equipment and fittings
- designs that support tenants with a disability and allow ageing in place.
The Public Housing Renewal Taskforce works with government and community representatives on the redevelopment of multi-unit properties and the replacement of public housing. This includes meeting with community councils, key stakeholders and local residents as needed, and providing regular updates on program progress.
To stay informed you can: