Baird's $22 billion plan to privatise public housing

THE Baird Government has promised a $22 billion construction boost from its plan to privatise public housing.

The revolutionary plan involves building or replacing up to 23,500 social housing properties in partnership with the private sector, which would take over the reins for 35% of the state's public housing tenants.

Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard said the current 27,000 private rental support subsidies available to tenants would be increased to 37,000 within a decade in a bid to take more families off the waiting list and into private tenancies.

Large-scale new developments would be made up of 70% private tenancies and 30% public housing to encourage more integrated communities.

Developers would have to form partnerships with community housing groups to bid for the projects.

"We are looking to the innovation of the private and non-government sectors to redevelop old public housing estates into mixed communities which will put thousands of people in social housing on a better path," he said.

"Children in social housing should not see disadvantage as their only future.

"It does them good to see their neighbours in private housing going to a job each day."

The Opposition has criticised elements of the plan, including the need to displace long-term tenants to rebuild and replace existing properties.

City Futures Research Centre associate professors from the University of NSW, Hal Pawson and Vivienne Milligan, posted a research blog arguing the strategy raised more questions than answers.

They said none of the state's affordable housing needs had been properly measured and none of the solutions had been clearly costed.

The best means of pulling people out of the social housing merry-go-round would be to restructure private rental supply by engaging institutional investors more likely to prioritise long-term rental yields than quick cash, they argued.

"Government actions that might help to bring this about would include guaranteeing affordable housing investment and sponsoring a financial intermediary agency," they continued.

"Regrettably, however, such ideas are eschewed in the paper's somewhat vague and apparently unambitious suggestions on 'innovative financing'."

There are about 60,000 people currently waiting for social housing. -APN NEWSDESK


How many social housing dwellings on the North Coast?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, these were the figures in 2010:

Coffs Harbour - 1195

Tweed - 955

Ballina - 607

Lismore - 545

Clarence Valley - 373

Richmond Valley - 252

Byron Shire - 211

Kyogle - 32

NSW - 125,550

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