Why does Orange have more shabby homes than other NSW cities?

BOARDED UP: This Maxwell Avenue house was divided into three social housing units. Photo: JUDE KEOGH		     0705fire3

BOARDED UP: This Maxwell Avenue house was divided into three social housing units. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0705fire3

MEMBER for Orange Andrew Gee says Orange still has many ageing fibro social housing properties because it has a higher percentage of public housing than the state average. 

The Maxwell Avenue social housing units burnt out in a fire on Friday, which were home to a 17-year-old girl and a woman with a disability, were part of a dilapidated fibro house divided into three flats.

The building was boarded up, with no-one permitted to return, after an inspection revealed asbestos contamination as a result of fire damage. 

It is expected to remain off-limits until Housing NSW decides whether to demolish the house or repair the damage.

About 7.5 per cent of properties in Orange are government-owned social housing, compared to the state average of 5 per cent, but the waiting list for properties in Orange is between two and 10 years. 

“We have more social housing than most other areas and the ideal situation would be that we wouldn’t have older stock, but it does get replaced over time,” Mr Gee said. 

“There’s not a limitless pool of money in which to replace these properties.”

STORY: TEENAGER HOMELESS AFTER SUSPICIOUS HOUSE FIRE

Mr Gee said in the last three years 187 affordable housing units were built in Orange.

Affordable housing included units for people on single incomes of between $45, 956 and $57,445 per year. 

Community housing provider Housing Plus had 20 additional units it was working on, Mr Gee said.

The Department of Family and Community Services would not provide current statistics, but, as of October last year, there were 433 applicants on the waiting list for social housing in Orange. 

In Orange, people who needed a one- or two-bedroom unit would wait up to 10 years and people who needed two- or four-bedroom homes would wait two to five years. 

A department spokesperson said, in a statement, priority housing was granted to people who had urgent need.

That could include people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, people with urgent medical conditions, the frail elderly, people with disabilities or people with a mental illness, the statement said. 

“Those applying for priority housing are interviewed and specific support questions are asked, these questions help identify and assess the urgency of their housing need and the level of any support required,” the statement said.

Tenants a priority: Gee

FINDING homes for tenants who lost their belongings in a fire that gutted one of three social housing flats in a Maxwell Avenue house on Friday night is a state government priority. 

Kirsty Nitto and a 17-year-old girl had been living in the house, which was extensively damaged by a fire police believe was deliberately lit.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee said the women had been to Housing NSW and the government would do everything possible to make sure they were re-housed as soon as possible, but, more importantly, in a location that was appropriate.

“Housing NSW workers are on it and we’re hoping to find something for them soon,” he said. 

“It’s anticipated they’ll be able to stay in Orange.”

“We want to make sure they’re actually placed in appropriate properties, given the circumstances.”

Mr Gee said temporary living arrangements had been made for the tenants until an appropriate home could be found.

“It’s absolutely the highest priority,” he said. 

Jacob Donovan, who was interviewed by the Central Western Daily and said he had been living in the property, was not a registered Housing NSW tenant.

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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