Many of Armidale’s most disadvantaged residents could soon receive a boost as the state government moves to privatise public housing.
Local community housing provider Homes North is set to bid on a contract for more than 1000 houses in the region.
It comes after social housing minister Brad Hazzard announced the management of 18,000 properties would be transferred to non-government organisations last week.
The government is expected to put out a tender early next year and should Homes North be successful, it would more than double the company's portfolio.
Homes North chief executive Maree McKenzie said they would provide a better quality of service for tenants.
“Regionalising the service through a community service provider means a lot more opportunity to build relationships with clients,” Ms McKenzie said.
“You can't solve social problems by just putting a roof over someone's head.
“It’s very important, it's our most basic need, but it's just one need.
You can't solve social problems by just putting a roof over someone's headHomes North chief executive Maree McKenzie
“People won't advance or change their lives if we don’t give them the opportunity to gain economic benefits and access to services.”
Under the new Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW policy, community housing providers like Homes North will place an extra emphasis on providing training and employment pathways for tenants.
Ms McKenzie said the initiative was designed to give people a more personalised service.
The change is also expected to provide more jobs to the region.
“We anticipate that if we are successful we would actually increase employment in the area,” Ms McKenzie said.
“This is a chance for us to keep all the economic value of community housing in the region and not have funds siphoned off to other regions.”
Localising management will also give more work to local maintenance contractors and provide faster service according to the company.
“For us, our first point of call is to always be using local contractors,” Ms McKenzie said.
“This ensures the money from out activities stay in the communities where we work.”
When their provider changes, residents will stay in their current houses but will need to sign a new contract.
Their rent will effectively remain the same, 25 per cent of their earnings.
But as they will be eligible for the commonwealth government's rent assistance, their actual rent payments will increase by their rent assistance amount.
Ms McKenzie said this was another benefit of the scheme as it brought more money into the local economy at no extra cost to the tenant.
“If you have a local provider like Homes North, that money is going to stay here,” she said. “It’s helping to fund the system.”