Sharing a communal space at Avonliegh social housing in East Lismore are (from left) Di Kivi, Maddison Parrish, 2 with her grandmother Doreen Crummy and Bob Lord.
Sharing a communal space at Avonliegh social housing in East Lismore are (from left) Di Kivi, Maddison Parrish, 2 with her grandmother Doreen Crummy and Bob Lord. Cathy Adams

20 year wait for public housing

WHILE it can still take more than 20 years to get into social housing in Byron Shire, the wait for one, two or three-bedroom housing in Lismore, Casino or Kyogle could be two to five years.

Previously it hasn't been easy for people on social housing (the new term for public housing) waiting lists to find out how long they would have to wait before their name came up, and what the availability of housing stock was in the area of their choice.

There are around 56,000 people are on the social housing waiting list.

Yesterday the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, announced that such details would now be made available for the first time online.

It shows where the wait will be long or short, as well as what size of house will be most easily available, from studio flats to four-bed- room houses.

Ms Goward said it would benefit the more than 56,000 people on the waiting list.

"At last they will be able to apply for a location clearly knowing its average waiting time," she said.

Predictably, Byron Bay has the longest wait in the state - 20 years for a two-bedroom property.

"If your application shows you have an urgent and ongoing housing need that you can't resolve yourself in the private rental market you may be assessed for priority assistance," a Family and Community Services spokesman said.

"Disability, age, health needs, homelessness and children would somewhat contribute to a priority assessment."

Lack of affordable housing has led to social problems in the shire, according to the chair of the Brunswick Heads Community Council, Michele Grant, which helps people in need.

"I see the problems and the cri- ses that a lack of social housing throws people into," Ms Grant said.

"There are a lot of older people who have no chance of staying in the private rental market in the shire. They become homeless and may be living in their cars or in illegal housing like sheds and garages and not eating properly."

It's a happier story in Lismore, where one exemplary group of units is housing 11 very satisfied customers.

Di Kivi and Bob Lord had been on the waiting list for just a year when they moved into Avonliegh, which came brand new onto the social housing market in 2009.

"We were over the moon when we saw it," Mr Lord said.

"We're paying half the rent we were before. Some tenants feel like they've won Lotto."



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