Affordable housing a top priority ahead of state election: Bell

Tuesday March 15, 2022

Media release published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.

Affordable housing should be top of the agenda for both major parties ahead of the State Election, said Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.

Meanwhile, urgent public housing improvements and utilising a motel for temporary short-term accommodation have led discussions at a community roundtable discussion about the issue.

The Independent MP invited representatives and submissions from, Lifeline, City of Mount Gambier, Migrant Resource Centre, Sunset Community Kitchen and community stakeholders, plus all candidates for the seat of Mount Gambier to attend last week's discussion around the issue.

Mr Bell said participants had reported housing stress and affordability is currently affecting a wide demographic.

"I'm hearing from young professionals moving to the city who can't find rentals to women escaping domestic violence situations in need of crisis accommodation to older people living solo and unable to find one or two-bedroom places," he said.

"We need to move past this notion that housing stress is just around emergency accommodation.

"Everyone deserves a safe and secure roof over their head at the moment, that's becoming harder to find for many people and they are experiencing homelessness for the first time.

"When our young people can't afford their first home and when there's 30 applications for each rental property, that's a huge problem for our city's growth and prosperity."

Last week, Anglicare announced a $100m affordable housing package for South Australia, but details were yet to emerge about what the package meant for Mount Gambier and other regional areas.

Mr Bell said he knew of between 30-50 Housing SA properties which were currently vacant and awaiting maintenance or repairs.

The Housing SA property maintenance was one of the main priorities earmarked in Mr Bell's Future Mount Gambier & District plan where $10million for his Housing for All strategy, including a range of initiatives across all levels of government:

Initiatives discussed at the meeting include:

- Potential for community-led and volunteer initiatives.

- Stamp duty incentives/low-cost housing inclusion for all new housing estates;

- Maintenance register for public housing;

- Increased funding for crisis and emergency housing accommodation;

- Short-term/contract housing for skilled workers;

- Orange Sky van to provide meals, drinks and washing facilities for people in need;

Participants in the discussion had also made clear the need for continued funding to support staffing and ongoing project costs, Mr Bell said.

"It's one thing to announce funding to create and develop an initiative or project but there must be the funding support and staffing levels to actually keep it going," Mr Bell said.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel here. There's many cities and regional area coming up with their own ideas and initiatives which could be a good fit for our city.

"For example, the motel idea came from Bordertown where JBS meatworks has brought one to house workers, while a Queensland community self-funded a 'sleep bus' for their area containing sleep pods and toilets for emergency accommodation."

Mr Bell said participants had added some valuable insight to the discussion, bringing their own expertise and knowledge base.

"When you get a group of passionate people in the same room, working together on an issue, big things happen," he said.

"City of Mount Gambier is already working on a Local Housing Affordability Plan for our city so there's already great work happening on the ground. It's just a matter of working together to achieve these common goals."