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Access to Public Housing

Tabled: 28 March 2012

Providing access to public housing is an important way that the government assists those in housing need. This audit examined how effectively the Department of Human Services (the department), through its Housing and Community Building division (the division), plans for and maintains public housing assets, to support current and future access for eligible tenants.

The situation for public housing is critical. The current operating model and asset management approach places the long-term provision of this vital public service at risk.

The operating model, with costs increasingly exceeding revenues, is unsustainable and the division is forecast to be in deficit in 2012–13. The  department has not implemented longer-term strategies to address this, instead using short-term approaches such as reducing acquisitions and preventative maintenance. The division now has an estimated 10 000 properties, 14 per cent of the portfolio, nearing obsolescence and a significant maintenance liability.

There is no current asset management strategy for the public housing portfolio and past strategies do not meet Department of Treasury and Finance guidelines or established asset management practices. The department lacks basic information, such as accurate property condition data, to inform strategic asset decisions.

The department is now working to develop a new Housing Framework and has commenced financial modelling of new approaches and an update of property data. As cost and demand pressures are unlikely to abate, and the current model is not working, change is necessary. New directions must innovate so that access to public housing can be better managed and sustainable into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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