Multi-million dollar housing maintenance program to improve homes and boost economy

13 Sep 2019 newsmedia

A Liberal Government $10 million maintenance boost is set to improve three, large ageing public housing unit blocks and will provide a welcome boost to South Australia’s building industry.

Recognising the former Labor Government left the state’s public housing stock to ruin, the Liberal Government allocated a total of $21.1 million in the 2019-20 State Budget for a preventative maintenance and upgrade program to about 450 Housing SA properties.

The first $10 million will be spent upgrading a total of 198 flats across three sites, built in the 1950s and 60s, in Gilberton, Hawthorn and Henley Beach South.

This is in addition to the 2019-20 Housing SA $100.7 million maintenance budget. Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the earmarked sites were dated and the upgrades were well overdue.

“The Liberal Government’s extensive maintenance program across these three sites is a long-time coming and there is no doubt the work will be welcomed by our public housing tenants who live in these properties,” said Minister Lensink.

“To start, the upgrade work will include sites at Mellor Court at Gilberton, Yeomans Court at Henley Beach South and Bonython Court at Hawthorn."

“The maintenance work will be done in various stages, starting with general maintenance and rubbish removal."

“This will be followed by external work, improved lighting and landscaping and the work will also include the removal of old asbestos roofing."

“Not only will this upgrade work benefit our public housing tenants, our $21.1 million commitment will provide a boost to our local building and maintenance industry."

“A tender process is currently underway to select contractors to carry out the work and I encourage businesses to apply.”

Preliminary work is underway, with the roof replacement scheduled for November. Work will continue into the first half of 2020, however the roof replacement will be completed as soon as possible at each site.

The three sites have multiple floors, and residents in the top floors will be temporarily relocated (for 24-48 hours) until the roof replacement is completed.

The asbestos removal will be carried out by accredited asbestos removalists to ensure the health and safety of residents and workers.

“All affected tenants have been contacted by Housing SA staff to assist them to relocate temporarily until the work is completed,” said Minister Lensink.

Minister Lensink said the maintenance work was just a start in challenging budgetary times.

“The Liberal Government inherited 34,000 homes, many of which are run-down and in chronic condition, with backlog maintenance into the tens of millions of dollars,” said Minister Lensink.

“The former Labor Government sold about $1.5 billion worth of Housing SA properties over 15 years, which equates to about 7,500 properties."

“After 16 years of mismanagement of this portfolio, our public housing system will not be fixed overnight."

“The Liberal Govenrment is working hard to fix our housing system and that is why I announced the establishment of the SA Housing Authority and our housing board and taskforce, so we can establish a new vision and goals for social housing in South Australia."

“We consulted broadly on our first 10-year Housing and Homelessness Strategy for SA, which will be launched at the end of the year."

“The development of our new strategy will be a genuine partnership between government and the community and housing sectors, to find shared solutions.”

The $21.1 million preventative maintenance program is part of the Liberal Government’s $104.5 million housing stimulus package in the 2019-20 State Budget that will grow local jobs, support the local construction industry and assist more South Australians, particularly first-home buyers, breaking into the property market.

Further sites for improvement are currently being identified.