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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3744 ..

Our dilemma—the dilemma for governments and housing authorities across Australia—is how to manage the competing priorities for housing assistance in an extremely tight housing market. There are many groups in our community requiring social housing; and they have very diverse needs. These groups include, for example, young people who are at risk of becoming homeless or are experiencing various forms of discrimination in the private housing market. They also include older people whose housing needs may have changed; women and children experiencing domestic violence; people with disabilities and mental illness—we talked about that today—and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be experiencing discrimination in the private rental market.

As we all know, some people have more choices in life than others. In the matter of housing, this government is particularly concerned about the choices. In June 2006, Housing ACT implemented a new priority allocation system with a stronger focus on those most in need, by replacing the previous four waiting list categories with three need categories: priority housing, high-need housing and standard housing.

Not withstanding the demand for suitable dwellings for public housing applicants, there are some properties that do not meet the specific needs of high-need applicants and are therefore hard to let. In the interests of full utilisation and effective management of public housing stock, we need to find strategies to allocate all available properties. The housing now initiative, implemented as a pilot program in August 2007, provides another avenue for this to occur.

Let me describe in some further detail how this initiative has been implemented. Registered applicants are contacted by Housing ACT about the availability of the scheme. Available dwellings are advertised at the applicant services centre at Belconnen, on the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services internet site and through relevant community services.

Interested applicants are invited to inspect a number of vacant dwellings with a view to lodging an expression of interest. In best-practice housing, this is known as choice-based letting. It offers applicants the choice of available properties and the opportunity to register their interest in a property similar to the way it is done in the private rental market. In the event that more than one applicant expresses an interest in a particular property, the property is offered firstly to applicants in the highest need category and then by date of application.

Hard-to-let dwellings are also utilised for the transitional housing program, which provides housing options for clients exiting supported accommodation assistance programs, SAAP programs. Since the commencement of the pilot in August 2007, 63 hard-to-let properties have been allocated to applicants. Forty-five of those properties were in multi-unit complexes that were difficult to let. A further 18 properties have been allocated to eligible applicants where a property had previously been refused three or more times. These hard-to-let properties are located at Oaks Estate, Kanangra Court, Stuart Flats and Gowrie Court.

The benefit of this approach is obvious. It will offer improved stock utilisation, which will mean that we can house more people within our existing stock numbers. It also

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