NSW is introducing a drastic new test to try and “break the cycle” of public housing, which will see applicants have to find and hold down a job before they can be granted a taxpayer-funded property.
The new program, which is being trialled by the NSW state government, is designed to stop unemployed people languishing on welfare and instead encourage them to get an education and employment.
The test, which is initially being trialled for three years across 20 properties Punchbowl and Towradgi near Wollongong, will allow applicants on the housing waiting list to volunteer for the new program and essentially skip the queue if they can find and maintain a job.
Once they have kept a job, the hope is these people will then be moved into the private rental market – ensuring they don’t remain stuck on welfare longer than needed.
Social Housing Minister Pru Goward now hopes the system will help “break the cycle” of public housing.
“The program will help break the cycle of disadvantage and increase the number of tenants positively exiting the social housing system,” she said in a statement seen by Starts at 60. “This is about equipping tenants with the skills they need to not only obtain a job, but keep it over the longer term and achieve their full potential.
She added: “We also want to set to a clear expectation that social housing is not for life and for those who can work, social housing should be used as a stepping stone to moving into the private rental market.”
Under the new test, homes will be leased out for six months at a time and then renewed depending on the resident meeting set goals in the plan, such as maintaining their job or education.
It comes as part of the $42.6 million Opportunity Pathways program, which also works with public housing tenants already living in properties to encourage them to study and find jobs – with the eventual hope of moving them into the private rental market, too. The program, which is completely voluntary, focuses on 3,000 tenants at a time.
“We hope through employment and education we can divert people from the need to enter social housing,” Goward added.
It comes after Channel 9 show A Current Affair previously exposed a series of public housing tenants enjoying luxuries like flashy cars and hot tubs in April this year, while paying minimal rent.
Angelo Dallas, 41, lived in Melbourne’s north side at the time, and paid just $100 a week for his public housing accommodation. According to the report, equivalent properties of the same size in the same area were advertised for as much as $650 a week at the time.
Dallas revealed he has no shame over his lavish lifestyle, which included the two flashy cars, a hot tub, a Vespa scooter and a home-entertainment system.
While there is a $32,000 asset limit when applying for Victorian public housing, cars and furniture aren’t included.
Elsewhere, another public housing tenant, Rob, was an Uber driver. He was accepting government support for “convenient and cheap” housing, despite earning as much as $1,000 a week and buying himself a BMW.