We’re sorry, this feature is currently unavailable. We’re working to restore it. Please try again later.
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
The NSW Labor government will take back control of the maintenance of its 95,000 social housing properties as part of its broader push to reverse the outsourcing of services to the private sector.
In a bid to improve long wait times that social housing tenants face for basic repairs to their homes, the government will not renew the contracts of four private operators due to expire next year.
Instead, the new government agency Housing NSW will assume responsibility for a centralised call centre, to log tenants’ required repairs and allocate the work to local tradespeople and small businesses.
NSW Premier Chris Minns and Housing Minister Rose Jackson are ending the outsourcing of maintenance for public housing.Credit: Nikki Short
Tenants will be able to monitor the progress of their repair request through an app. Previously they had no way of knowing when repairs would be carried out.
Premier Chris Minns said, “Everyone deserves access to safe and secure shelter without having to jump through hoops to ensure essential maintenance is done.
“We have a housing crisis in NSW, and we are working across the government to address the challenges, including maintaining the liveability of our social housing properties.”
The move follows the government’s decision to begin reversing the privatisation of NSW jails, with Junee Correctional Centre returning to public ownership for the first time in 30 years.
The government has confirmed the contract with US multinational GEO Group for operating the southern NSW jail will not be renewed after 2025. The government estimates that it will cost the state $75 million a year to operate Junee at full capacity.
The troubled Parklea prison in Sydney’s west is likely to follow, leaving only one jail – Clarence on the mid-north coast – with a private operator. That contract does not expire for several years but will be reviewed.
As well as the Minns government’s prison privatisation reversal, it has also announced it would take land from the Moore Park Golf Course to create more public green space. Out-of-home care is another service that the government is looking to return to the public sector.
Housing Minister Rose Jackson said bringing back maintenance of social housing would “restore dignity, safety and a sense of pride” to tenants and the public housing system in NSW.
“Over recent years, a sad outcome of the neglect of public housing is that NSW government is one of the worst landlords in the state,” Jackson said.
“It is clear the Liberal experiment of outsourcing maintenance contracts to private providers has failed with soaring wait times for basic maintenance and breaches of contacts rife.”
Jackson said she was “sick of social housing having a bad reputation”.
“Bringing the call centre back in public hands and our new approach to maintenance will make sure basic requests are actioned in a timely manner and will help stop homes falling into disrepair,” she said.
“This is positive for the people who live in social housing – meaning they won’t be forced to live in unsafe and unclean housing, giving them a sense of pride in their homes.”
The government could not provide an overall costing of its maintenance overhaul because existing contracts remain commercial in confidence, but a spokesperson said the new model would also save the government “millions of dollars”.
Start the day with a summary of the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up for our Morning Edition newsletter.
Copyright © 2023