Not-for-profit organisation BaptistCare says it will have “no trouble” filling another 20 units it intends to build in west Goulburn.
The christian organisation has lodged a development application to construct 18 one-bedroom and two double-bedroom units within its existing Clinton Place residential accommodation. The project is valued at $5.4 million.
If approved, it will take total unit numbers to ninety. The organisation’s general manager of housing and retirement living, Mike Furner said there was a clear need.
“There is a five to 10-year waiting list for public housing in Goulburn and that is the critical indicator. Added to that is the fact that 40 per cent of the population is over 55,” he said.
Tenants are selected from the public housing list and interviewed for suitability for the social housing scheme.
Mr Furner said BaptistCare funded mostly vulnerable people in Goulburn, some of whom upon retirement had few assets and almost entirely relied on a pension. Many could not afford private rent. Others were at risk of homelessness.
While there was intense focus on Sydney’s housing unaffordability, he told The Post that many people were doing it tough in rural and regional NSW.
The brick veneer units will be designed with accessibility in mind and allow “ageing in place.” BaptistCare targets seniors (over 65) and provides a home care service and no interest loans for necessary assets such as household items.
Since taking over the villas in 1998 from The Smith Family, the organisation has demolished most of the old units and built 50 new ones from 2011 to 2014/15. Mr Furner said the 90 residences were in line with the Smith Family’s target.
He told The Post that while some rural regions were experiencing healthy levels of housing construction, investors wanted a good return through rent and this was often beyond seniors’ means.
In contrast, the units had “everything people needed” and provided for aged care needs.
“We will have no trouble filling them,” he said.
“There is a high level of demand. Our talks with Family and Community Services also led to the decision to construct the extra 20 units.”
BaptistCare is partnering the State Government in the project. It was one of five organisations to receive funding, announced in March by Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Goulburn MP and Minister for Housing, Pru Goward. Across the State it will deliver 375 homes for older people in housing stress and at risk of homelessness and 125 for single parent families, focusing on woman impacted by domestic violence.
The housing will be built over the next five years across eight sites and will be leased out to tenants.
Construction on the Goulburn development is expected to start later this year, pending DA approval, with completion by late 2018.
Local subcontractors will be used.
Goulburn MP Pru Goward did not respond specifically to questions on whether there was local high demand for social and affordable housing and contributing factors.
But in a statement she said the government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) “delivered on the government’s election commitment to establish a $1.1 billion fund and invest the money to provide a stable income stream for up to 25 years to boost” this type of housing.
“Through SAHF Phase 1, Baptist Care plans to deliver 20 new affordable housing units in Goulburn for seniors experiencing housing stress,” she said.
“The BaptistCare dwellings are the only confirmed homes in Goulburn at this stage. The additional 20 units are a significant investment and will be most welcome by the community.”
Details of the next phase of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund will be announced shortly.
“In addition to the SAHF, the Government has a ten year social housing strategy Future Directions which will deliver approximately 23,500 new and replacement social and affordable dwellings across the State,” Ms Goward said.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council has also embarked on a housing strategy. The Post has posed questions to the council on whether this would include zoning for social and affordable housing.