The state government is recycling its public housing property portfolio in a bid to cut waiting times in some Riverina towns of more than 10 years.
During the last two years, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has sold off more than $700,000 worth of Riverina properties and is building five new houses with the proceeds.
Wagga’s social housing waiting list is typically up to two years, but people hoping for a roof over their heads in Coolamon, Culcairn, Lockhart, Coleambally, Urana, Henty, The Rock and Tarcutta could be waiting for more than a decade.
West Wyalong has the shortest waiting period, with houses of all sizes available with 24 months.
“To address this waiting list, the NSW government can confirm that in the last two years $722,000 was raised through the sale of aged housing stock in the Riverina,” a FACS spokesman said.
“In the same period, this money is being used to build five new purpose built homes in the Riverina.”
According to the spokesman, the NSW government and FACS “continually reviews the suitability of the properties it owns to ensure they meet the needs of the social housing system”.
“FACS may sell properties which have become uneconomical to maintain or repair, properties which no longer align to the demand in the area,” he said.
“All the money raised is used to fund the building of new homes, in highly accessible locations and which meet the needs of social housing tenants.”
NSW Labor upper-house member responsible for Wagga matters Daniel Mookhey demanded more detail about where the five new houses were being built.
“There needs to be more social and affordable housing in the Riverina, not less,” Mr Mookhey said.
“The government must assure the Riverina community that it’s not acting like a robber baron; stripping local investment to pay for city projects.”
The government has also faced criticism of selling public assets at the peak of the housing affordability crisis, as thousands of people are struggling to put a roof over their heads.
Gundagai public housing tenant Sharon Batt only waited two weeks to land a three-bedroom house in Gundagai, but she said it’s “luck of the draw”.
According to FACS, a tenant typically waits up to 24 months for a three-bedroom house in Gundagai.
Ms Batt’s 53-year-old intellectually disabled brother recently lost his carer and he only waited two weeks to land a one-bedroom apartment, which people typically wait between two and five years for.