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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3746 ..

public housing per 1,000 people of any Australian state or territory, at 26 per 1,000 people. This is more than double the national average of 12. It is a landmark budget because it invests $8.6 million towards expanding the capacity of specialist homelessness services. This is a 12.7 per cent increase in funding across specialist homelessness sector services and comes during a time when the pandemic has exacerbated the risk of homelessness for those who are most vulnerable. This builds on the funding of $1.948 million that was announced in the 2020-21 budget for the continuation of specialist homelessness programs that were established in response to COVID-19.

This budget illustrates the government’s commitment to addressing homelessness in the ACT. In addition to the delivery of the Growing and Renewing Public Housing program, the government is committed to ensuring that existing public housing properties are safe, secure and well maintained to support tenant wellbeing. The securing high-quality public housing initiative is founded on three of the 12 wellbeing domains as outlined in the ACT wellbeing framework. They are safety, living standards and housing. With approximately 11,500 public housing properties, Housing ACT is the ACT’s largest landlord, and it works on the basis of personal wellbeing. It works with tenants to meet their responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act.

As a model social landlord, Housing ACT undertakes upgrades and incurs costs that many private landlords do not. This includes security upgrades required in cases of domestic and family violence, or property modifications required to support ageing in place or to ensure that tenants with a disability have full use of their homes. Over the 2020-21 financial year, Housing ACT spent approximately $41.7 million on repairs and upgrades, delivering 52,000 work orders. In the 2021-22 budget, the ACT government has allocated $80 million to public housing maintenance over the next three years. This funding will ensure that public housing tenants live in safe, secure and affordable homes, and supports the government’s commitment to provide housing options for all Canberrans.

This budget also recognises that, from March 2020 to now, there has been an increase in people accessing homelessness services in the ACT, and with increasingly complex needs brought on by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Housing ACT works in collaboration with community sector partners to deliver housing and support for those experiencing homelessness or at risk of being homeless in the ACT. Throughout the pandemic, the specialist homelessness sector has demonstrated its responsiveness in adapting its service delivery in a COVID-safe operating environment and continuing to provide services to those in need.

In 2020-21 the sector successfully implemented several new initiatives to support Canberrans experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. And thank goodness we had those services as we faced the latest outbreak, including the client support fund, Winter Lodge, and MacKillop House. These programs have continued to provide crisis accommodation, transitional housing, domestic violence counselling, education, support and advocacy services to Canberrans in need. The successful implementation of these initiatives demonstrates what can be achieved through strong collaboration between government and the sector

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