Public housing is an important way that government assists those in housing need. Safe, secure housing is essential for good health, employment, education and community wellbeing.
Without access to affordable housing, some people risk homelessness or struggle to meet utility, food and other basic living costs. The Housing and Community Building Division (the division) of the Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for the management of public housing, which is generally government owned and managed. At June 2011, there were 65 352 dwellings and 127 357 tenants in public housing, and 38 244 eligible households on the public housing waiting list.
Public housing is facing significant challenges. Against a background of finite government resources, demand has grown due to reduced housing affordability and demographic changes such as population ageing, and more and smaller households. Increased targeting of public housing has changed the tenant profile to those with more complex needs and lower incomes. Public housing infrastructure is also ageing, requiring significantly increased maintenance. These challenges highlight the importance of effective asset management that not only delivers portfolio value but also provides access to housing that allows people to live, work and thrive.
Providing access to public housing, now and into the future, requires a sustainable asset base that meets community need. Careful planning using accurate information, for example, about housing demand, the current and projected tenant profile, and the asset condition, is a prerequisite. Long-term direction detailing service outcomes, comprehensive asset management strategies that consider the full life of assets, opportunities for innovation, and adequate performance measures to track progress are also vital.