Labor promises to invest in public housing in Murray Bridge
As a homelessness service resorts to handing out tents, the opposition has promised to build dozens of new homes if it wins the state election.
A Labor state government would build more public housing in Murray Bridge, leader Peter Malinauskas has announced in the lead-up to Saturday’s election.
Mr Malinauskas said the party would budget $181.7 million over the next four years for:
Up to 150 new homes in five regional centres, including Murray Bridge and Strathalbyn
Repairs to 350 vacant Housing SA properties across South Australia
Maintenance for 3000 tenanted properties
As well as helping with the current housing shortage, Mr Malinauskas said the measure would create thousands of construction jobs.
Labor’s human services spokeswoman, Nat Cook, suggested some of the new homes would be small and energy efficient, suited to older people or people with a disability who lived on their own.
The Liberal state government has invested in public and social housing throughout its four years in government, but mostly in Adelaide.
Liberal MP Adrian Pederick has suggested that housing in Murray Bridge is already among the most affordable in the state, and that the private sector was best placed to meet the current need.
At an election forum on Wednesday night, however, candidates criticised Labor for having sold off public housing during its last term in government.
Families are being forced to live in tents, AC Care executive says
A shortage of rental and public housing has become a critical issue in the Murraylands in recent years, and is likely to worsen as hundreds of jobs open up at Thomas Foods International and other local companies over the next 12 months.
Local voters named affordable housing – and connected questions around unemployment and disadvantage – as one of the top issues of this election campaign in Murray Bridge News’ recent citizens’ agenda survey.
AC Care chief executive Shane Maddocks, whose organisation runs a homelessness service in the Murraylands, said more and more people were being pushed to the brink.
Some were forced to live in tents while they waited for a more sustainable solution.
“Various impacts from COVID-19 on the housing market, which has pushed up prices in regional areas and reduced availability of affordable properties for people on low incomes, along with decades of underinvestment in social and affordable housing, which has not kept up with demand, (are) making it challenging for country people on low incomes to maintain or secure tenancies,” he said.
“A shortage of affordable, emergency and transitional properties (is) making it increasingly difficult to ensure people have safe homes.”
Whichever party won government at Saturday’s election needed to invest in emergency accommodation, affordable housing and other solutions, he said.
He urged voters to keep the issue in mind as they cast their votes.
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