BaptistCare shovel into social and affordable housing

Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward turns the sod at the BaptistCare site for the new 20-unit project.Photo: Mariam Koslay.
Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward turns the sod at the BaptistCare site for the new 20-unit project.Photo: Mariam Koslay.

BaptistCare are shoveling their way into the affordable housing market, turning the sod on its $5 million 20-unit project on Monday. 

CEO Ross Low, MP Pru Goward, Housing and Retirement Living manager Mike Furner and Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Bob Kirk joined in praising the $1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), acquired after the Baird government leased TransGrid’s wires three years ago. 

The purpose built over 55’s complex, to be built by the Integrated Building Group, will also include access to onsite training, education and medical services and is expected to be complete in 12 months. 

Tenants for the units will be picked from the Family and Community Services (FACs) public housing list in an effort to transition elderly FACs tenants to the village, who were previously living with family members or partners, and make way for families who could better utilise openings in the market. 

“There is a crisis in affordable housing, even in places like Goulburn, it has become such an extensive problem,” Ms Goward said.

“This is a great innovation, its secret really enables us to bring people like BaptistCare in partnership with us in a way governments traditionally haven’t done and provide the housing services support that turns a house into a home, and a collection of people into a community.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, retirees between 60-69 years old in the Goulburn Mulwaree district jumped from 3,321 in 2011 to 3,738 in 2016. 

Seniors aged 70-84 has risen from 2,748 to 3,192 in the same five year period. 

Currently, about 19 per cent of the district’s population pay $250-299 per week for rental properties.

“Of course this isn’t going to meet the entire demand of the rental sector, but it’s better than not having nothing at all. It’s just something we need to keep finding money to do,” the Minister for Social Housing said.

Partnering with banks, super funds and private companies were listed as long term solutions for the SAHF.

“We need to find other ways to bringing people together where government money isn’t involved,” she said. 

Mr Low thanked the state government for allowing BaptistCare to continue to establish a presence in the housing market. 

“I think we’ll benefit from this and I’m sure areas here, and all the areas we get into, will benefit enormously from being involved with us and the social community. I look forward to the progress,” he said. 

The 20-unit complex is part of Stage Three of the BaptistCare expansion which began in 2011.

Mr Furner told The Post the company would be open to extending its stages of operation for greater units on the site.

“The experience is not just in Sydney for affordable housing but also in regional areas such as Goulburn and Lismore where affordable rent a real issue,” he said.

“People on full pensions spend 50 to 60 pc of their income on rent, then there is food, electricity bills, heating – they tend to suffer. Having affordable rent allows seniors to a manage the rest of lives in dignity.” 

Vacant land on the Clinton Street village site and aging weatherboard units could see additional units constructed in 15-20 years.

“The critical thing for people to live independently and with dignity is making sure we’re connecting them to and integrated range of services,” he said. 

“People move here and they say perfect, I want to downsize and be in a community where they feel safe. The critical thing is that they feel safe because they become vulnerable and frail.

“It is an integrated housing model, where there are barbecue areas and social activities so they don’t get isolated.”

Five NSW service providers were successful in the procurement of the SAHF announced last year. Service providers which received funding are required to provide accommodation, tailored services and data reporting. 

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