People in social housing such as the Northcott housing commission building in Surry Hills pay cheap rent. Picture John Grainger
People in social housing such as the Northcott housing commission building in Surry Hills pay cheap rent. Picture John Grainger

Punitive job rules for public housing tenants

Public housing applicants will have to get a job if they want a taxpayer-funded home under a tough new test to be introduced in NSW.

The state government is overhauling the public housing system to punish those locked out of the workforce by the slow economy.

Currently, less than a quarter of social housing tenants are in the workforce.

There are about 55,000 people on the public housing waitlist in NSW, and under the new program they will be able to skip the queue if they agree to get a job.

But if they get into the home then fail to get a job or maintain work they will be booted from the property.

Once they are secure in a job they will then move into the private rental market and out of the welfare system.

Social Housing Minister Pru Goward said the program will "help break the cycle of disadvantage".

"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 said.

"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."

The new program will be trialled in Punchbowl and Towradgi, near Wollongong, for three years across 20 properties. Its success will be evaluated over this time and it's likely the program will be expanded across the state.

Social Housing Minister Pru Goward said the program will “help break the cycle of disadvantage.” Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Social Housing Minister Pru Goward said the program will “help break the cycle of disadvantage.” Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

Homes will be leased for six months at a time, with renewal dependent on the resident maintaining their job or education, such as TAFE, and meeting agreed goals within the plan.

People in social housing such as housing commission blocks in Surry Hills pay cheap rent, as low as 20 per cent of normal rates, taken from their Centrelink payments.

The trial is part of the $42.6 million Opportunity Pathways program, which will connect 3000 public tenants with jobs or study as well as helping them write resumes and conduct job interviews.

"We hope through employment and education we can divert people from the need to enter social housing," Ms Goward said.

JOB TEST A REAL TRIAL FOR PUBLIC TENANTS

By Adella Beaini

A new trial by the government to link public housing to having a job has split opinion among residents who live in the properties.

Luis Lopez, 66, a resident of Northcott public housing project in Surry Hills, said any young people capable of working should be banned from properties.

"The government shouldn't let people who are under 50 and can get a job to go into housing because they can obviously support themselves," Mr Lopez said.

 

Sharna Millard is unable to work due to health problems. Picture: Toby Zerna
Sharna Millard is unable to work due to health problems. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

Sharna Millard, 27, lives in the block and is unable to work currently due to health problems.

"Even people who earn more than $500 a week can barely afford rent and the money you get (from Centrelink) barely does anything," she said.

Matthew Towt, 65, has been in housing for five years.

"Because of my age I don't want to look for a job, but even if I wanted one there just aren't many jobs out there."

Luis Lopez, 66, believes young people who can work should be banned from properties. Picture: Toby Zerna
Luis Lopez, 66, believes young people who can work should be banned from properties. Picture: Toby Zerna


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