30/10/2020 | Michelle Lensink MLC | Better Services

The Marshall Liberal Government is embarking on consultation with key stakeholders to modernise the state’s social housing system, with the aim of delivering better, fairer, more efficient and transparent services to South Australians.

The consultation includes reviewing current, generous eligibility criteria for entering social housing, helping more South Australians get their foot in the door of homeownership and making it easier for tenants to access the services they need, when they need them.

The reforms will not result in anyone currently in public housing losing their tenancy.

Improving social housing is one of the key focus areas in the Marshall Liberal Government’s $550 million housing and homelessness strategy, Our Housing Future 2020-2030, launched in November 2019.

Consultation will focus on:

* Reviewing eligibility criteria for entering social housing.

* Implementation of moderate income rent reforms, as highlighted in the 2018-19 State Budget. Households earning moderate-to-high incomes will be required to pay 30 per cent of their income as rent – and these increases will be gradual;

* Establishment of a new social housing register to make it easier for South Australians to apply for social housing;

* The rollout of a more effective affordable housing service to create more opportunities for low-and-moderate income South Australians to break into homeownership and the private rental market;

* Providing better services to tenants online and over the phone, making it easier more efficient for them to access what they need, when they need it.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said modernising the system would lead to better housing outcomes for South Australians.

“It’s been more than a decade since the state’s social housing system underwent significant reform and through these changes we’re modernising the system to create a fairer, better and more efficient system for South Australians using it,” said Minister Lensink.

Currently, South Australians can earn almost $1000 per week and have assets of up to $473,750, and still be eligible for social housing – compared to much lower thresholds interstate. Couples can have assets of up to $605,000.

“Social housing should be for our most vulnerable, but the current overly generous social housing eligibility criteria means we are not targeting our services to those most in need – and that’s what we’re intending to reform,” said Minister Lensink.

“Any change to eligibility criteria will only affect new customers and tenants already in social housing will not be affected.”

As announced in the 2018-19 State Budget, moderate rent reforms will be introduced gradually and households earning moderate-to-high incomes will be required to pay 30 per cent of their income as rent.

The majority of tenants will not be affected by these changes and moderate incomes thresholds will be determined in consultation with key housing stakeholders.

“We are reviewing rent for moderate-and-high income households to make the system more equitable and tenants who earn more will be required to make a slightly greater contribution for their homes than people on lower incomes,” said Minister Lensink.

“We have already reformed some areas of social housing with the new antisocial behaviour policy and upgrades to key walk-up flat sites - this work will build on these measures.

“Labor used the housing trust as an ATM to prop up the rest of the budget and we’re committed to continuing to improve the public housing system for South Australians.”