Long wait over for 26 locals
GERALD WHITWORTH, 55, has spent the last six months living in a caravan park while waiting to be allocated community housing.
His long wait ended yesterday when he was handed the keys to a new one-bedroom unit in Lismore.
The 26 unit complex was constructed by Baptist Community Services at a cost of $4.7 million, with just under $4 million contributed to the project through the Federal Government's stimulus packages.
Eighty-year-old pensioner Edmond Riordan was also "thrilled" to receive the keys to his unit.
"This is mine and I'm here for good," he said.
"I've got to pinch myself, it's just so beautiful."
The complex was built to provide affordable housing for seniors, with project co-ordinator Karen Banks allocating the units according to priority of needs.
"Without a doubt the hardest part of my job is saying 'No'," she said.
"So it's beautiful to be able to offer new properties to people. There couldn't be a better feeling."
All the one-bedroom units have been allocated to tenants and Ms Banks will now conduct interviews for the two-bedroom units.
Ms Banks said it could be challenging for seniors to find affordable rental accommodation in Lismore, with some of the tenants waiting for up to two years to be allocated housing.
"There is definitely a lack of housing in Lismore," she said. "It's huge."
"I've got some people due to be moving in that are paying more than half their income in rent.
"They have medication and transport costs on top of that so they're living on nothing."
CEO of Baptist Community Services, Ross Low, said the launch of the new housing development was a "wonderful day" for the residents.
"What we're learning is there are a lot of people facing homelessness or finding it difficult to pay the rent, so to be able to offer lovely accommodation at an affordable price is the right way to go."
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