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At last, Murray Bridge gets more public housing
At least 16 new houses are being built or repaired locally as the state government makes good on an election promise. But will it be enough to meet the local need?
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Sixteen new Housing SA properties are being made available in Murray Bridge as the state government makes good on an election promise.
Prior to last year’s election, Labor promised to:
build up to 150 new homes in five regional centres, including Murray Bridge.
repair 350 vacant properties across the state
get maintenance work done on another 3000
State Human Services Minister Nat Cook told Murray Bridge News that progress was being made towards those goals.
Twelve new Housing SA homes were currently under construction in Murray Bridge, with a mix of two, three and four bedrooms.
The presiding member of the SA Housing Trust’s board, Mary Patetsos, said the new homes would be terrific examples of what public housing could be: “built on Housing SA land, where old stock has been demolished to build new, quality housing for South Australians who need it”.
Two more previously derelict homes had been fixed up and tenanted, Ms Cook said.
Another one was awaiting a final inspection; and another was “90 per cent complete”.
For context, of the 555 Housing SA houses in Murray Bridge in 2021, 10 were “untenantable” due to their poor condition.
Murray Bridge is likely to get more public housing in the near future, too.
The state government called for tenders for the construction of another 133 houses across South Australia last Thursday, and will do the same for 82 more houses in the next six months.
“The SA Housing Authority continues to develop and identify regional locations for use in its ongoing construction programs, with additional locations for the final (Public Housing Improvement Program) homes being currently being considered,” Ms Cook said.
“These will include future opportunities to deliver new public housing and redevelop existing homes in Murray Bridge.”
What about that modular housing plan?
Murray Bridge News understands that a plan to use modular transportable housing to fill a short-term gap in the market, including in Murray Bridge, is still coming along.
The SA Housing Authority, which called for expressions of interest late last year, is still assessing what type of housing would work best and where it should go.
The next step will be for the authority to invite interested suppliers to meet the community’s needs.
Will these houses be enough to meet the community’s needs?
Ms Cook acknowledged that “significant pressure” on the market had impacted housing availability and affordability across the state during the past year.
Just 12 homes were available to rent in Murray Bridge on Wednesday, according to realestate.com.au, at an average of $326 per week.
Meanwhile, house prices in regional South Australia have risen by 12.6 per cent over the past 12 months, according to sales-tracking firm PropTrack – more than anywhere else in the country.
“It is the aim of the South Australian government and (SA Housing Authority) to ensure South Australians have access to safe and quality public housing options,” Ms Cook said.
“Safe and secure housing supports better lives for both individuals and communities.
“I’m proud of the commitment we’ve made to improving existing homes and building new homes for families, couples and singles.”
However, the University of New South Wales’ City Futures Research Centre estimated that 700 people had an unmet need for housing in the Murray Bridge district.
The amount of social housing in the district was less than half of what was needed.
A third of the people in need of housing across the Murraylands, Riverland and South East were families with children, for whom the bigger houses being built locally would be perfect.
But almost 50% were individuals, for whom share housing or smaller premises might be more suitable.
Local homelessness service provider AC Care needed to find accommodation for more than 700 people across the Murraylands, Adelaide Hills and South East in 2021-22, and had to intervene to help another 400 stay in the homes where they already lived.
Get help: Contact the Homelessness Gateway on 1800 003 308; or contact AC Care by visiting 29 Bridge Street, Murray Bridge, calling 1300 AC CARE, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or going to www.accare.org.au.