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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1774 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

committed to undertaking further work to achieve its long-term objectives for the provision of a sustainable affordable housing sector. However, there are no simple quick fixes.

Furthermore, housing affordability is not simply a factor of housing costs-it is also affected by general economic conditions, employment and overall living costs. Government action in other areas of its social, economic and planning agenda would also have beneficial outcomes for housing affordability.

The government considers that the key strategies identified in the Affordable Housing Taskforce report provide a sound framework for the consideration of affordable housing issues within the community and to address the broader housing policy concerns expressed in the introduction of this response.

The task force has recommended a range of strategies to address the problem of housing affordability. Many require medium to longer-term planning and should be recognised within the broader social, economic, and planning issues currently being addressed in the social and spatial plans in the economic white paper.

In recent years, the declining level of affordable housing has become an issue of concern to every level of government, as well as to the community at large. What has emerged from these debates is the requirement for a coordinated national approach to this complex issue, and for leadership from the Commonwealth government.

Ironically, the complexity of this issue is exacerbated in the ACT because of the relevant affluence of people in the Canberra community. This is reflected through higher-than-average incomes, as well as in the comparatively large supply of public housing we have, compared to other jurisdictions, and which the government aims to maintain.

The declining supply of affordable housing in the ACT is well documented. The trends, while not encouraging, have been exacerbated by the recent bushfires and their impact on the entire ACT housing system-that is, home purchase, private rental and social housing.

As I have said before, the stories of people in housing stress and its impact, which the task force has documented, paints a sober picture of what it must be like for over 9,000 households in the ACT. The government has agreed to 23 recommendations, agreeing in principle to a further 17, and noted for further investigation the remaining six recommendations. The government will be taking immediate steps, where it can, to start implementing the recommendations with which it agrees.

As announced in the ACT budget on Tuesday, up to $3 million will be made available for affordable housing initiatives, comprising community housing projects, head-leasing schemes, innovative affordable housing projects, and ventures involving private and community sector finance and resources.

Additional funding of $13 million over four years will be made available to provide increased short-term supported accommodation for families and single men in services for homeless people, and to more effectively respond to issues of homelessness.

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