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NR has 'severe housing shortage'

Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek (second left) dished it out at Lismore’s homeless shelter, with volunteers Ray Parry and Marg Helm.
Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek (second left) dished it out at Lismore’s homeless shelter, with volunteers Ray Parry and Marg Helm. Jacklyn Wagner

ALL three levels of government must work together to solve the housing affordability crisis on the Northern Rivers, Federal Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek said yesterday.

With Page MP Janelle Saffin, she visited Lismore and Ballina to inspect three new housing projects for ‘high need clients’ on the social housing waiting list.

The projects are worth a total of $10.5 million, with the ones in Ballina funded through the Economic Stimulus Plan.

The Lismore development is part of the National Rental Affordability Scheme and has been developed by Baptist Community Services.

“It’s really great to get out and see the work actually happening,” Ms Plibersek said.

But the Minister – who also visited Lismore’s Soup Kitchen – admitted the Northern Rivers had a ‘severe housing shortage’.

She said projects like these would make a huge difference to the community and in reducing homelessness.

“It doesn’t solve the problems overnight, but it does start to make a difference, particularly in a region like this,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Janelle Saffin is always talking to me about the housing needs in this area.

“But I think it’s absolutely something that all three levels of government should work together on.

“Councils can get involved; they can make a really big difference when it comes to housing affordability.”

The Lismore project, on the corner of Dibbs and Dalziel Streets, will include 13 one-bedroom and 13 two-bedroom townhouses.

It will be completed by mid 2011 at a cost of $5 million.

“The group of townhouses built will be rented out to seniors and people with a disability for 20 per cent below the market rate,” Ms Plibersek said.

“We are making sure there are new places being built to help fix the critical renting accommodation shortage.”

In Ballina, the two projects are in Burnet Street and include 19 new units for Aboriginal people and seniors.

Ms Saffin said the units were ‘greatly needed’.

“It’s great to see the Rudd Government is making such a big investment in affordable housing in Ballina,” she said.



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