NCNS recently made submission to the Legislative Council Select Committee Inquiry into Public, Social and Affordable Housing.
Our extensive work with public and social housing communities and residents in the Penrith area, qualifies and informs the input that we have to this Inquiry. Laura Williams, Senior Team Leader – Community Development authored the submission.
To summarise, we highlighted some key points:
- Housing needs to be diverse (from bed-sit to large homes with 4+ bedrooms – for very large families)
- In housing complexes, a community or recreation room is essential. This common space allows for community development activities, resident groups etc to function, and is key to getting services connected to people, and to create social capital and amenity. Community rooms in complexes bring people together, they allow for those living in small bedsits to get out of their bedsit and meet with other people and talk and share a laugh. At a recent activity Laura says she was discussing this submission with residents, and one resident stated that living in this complex is the best time of her life. I asked her why and she said “because we have this space where we can come together and talk……at the last place I lived, which was flats, no-one spoke to each other, it was just how it was”
- Funding of community development positions (either within Housing or contracted to NGO’s) for large social/public housing communities – Housing residents often have multiple and complex issues (mental health, disabilities, DV, drug and alcohol), community development workers assist residents to take those important small first steps towards participation and also bring in specialist services to assist individual and group needs. We have many instances of having worked with residents (making small steps), over several years, where residents who have experienced generational unemployment, have gotten their first jobs. This process has evolved from initial participation in a soft entry activity (such as women’s group), then building the confidence to participate in a TAFE Outreach course, which ultimately enables them to get a job. All the way, for many years working alongside the individual to overcome the daily crises and build skills, confidence and resilience.
- Small grants (such as the Community Development Resourcing Grants) are very important to provide funds for small projects that can make a huge difference in public housing communities.
- Maintenance is an on-going struggle. NCNS advocates that current public housing residents need to be provided with a maintenance regime that is commensurate with the requirements of older housing stock. Allowing housing stock to fall into disrepair contributes to residents’ low sense of self worth and self esteem, and does nothing to build social capital.
- Housing needs to be accessible to range of public transport