Call to sell off Gong's waterfront public housing

A Wollongong councillor wants the NSW government to look into selling off the region's waterfront public housing blocks to make way for private development.

Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich says Housing NSW land on Wollongong's Cliff Road, Port Kembla's Hill 60 and at Bellambi Point would be better used as private housing and plans to urge the council to write to the government about selling the properties at a meeting next month.

"I'm not against public housing, I'm just all about appropriate management of it," Cr Crasnich said.

"My proposal is basically for the state to look at better housing options for people who are living on prime real estate and waterfront land. We want more investment in Wollongong and can make better use of that land."

He suggested money raised from selling the waterfront properties could be used to establish new public housing lots in places like the Illawarra's northern suburbs, Warrawong or West Dapto.

Cr Crasnich's comments follow this week's announcement by Community Services Minister Pru Goward, who said hundreds of historic public housing properties on Sydney's waterfront would be sold.

Ms Goward said maintenance costs and rent subsidies for the properties were too high, and the proceeds would be reinvested in the social housing system.

Keira MP Ryan Park said Cr Crasnich should have consulted public housing tenants before suggesting their homes be sold.

"I don't think its right to make claims about people's homes, where some of them have lived for decades, without bothering to have a discussion with them," he said.

Mr Park also said there was no guarantee the government would reinvest money it made from selling Housing NSW properties.

"We can't just say 'let's start selling off people's homes' without any discussion about where they are going to live or any discussions with them about the impacts they will have," he said.

"I understand the point that we have a public housing shortage, and I'm also not against talking about how we can use state money better. But I'm concerned about a wholesale sell-off without any plan about where these people are going to go, because in the Illawarra we already have a 10-year waiting list."

These concerns were echoed by Wollongong MP Noreen Hay, who said the government had already started selling some public housing in the Illawarra but had not yet reinvested funds in lower socio-economic areas.

When asked on Friday if Ms Goward planned to sell public housing land in the Illawarra, a spokesman from her office told the Mercury "no further decisions had been made".

However, he said more public housing stock had been built than sold in the past four years.

"Since 2010, 375 new homes have been built in the Greater Illawarra area, while 155 have been sold," he said.

"At this stage, around 40 properties have been identified for sale in the Illawarra region in the current financial year. However, this could change, depending upon market conditions."

These properties at Bellambi Point are among those that Bede Crasnich wants sold. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

These properties at Bellambi Point are among those that Bede Crasnich wants sold. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER


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