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State Govt tightens social housing eligibility rules

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The State Government is significantly narrowing the eligibility criteria for social housing in a push to reduce wait times for Housing Trust properties and better target services to the state’s most vulnerable.

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Income and household asset tests apply to people applying for social housing, with singles who earn $1023.36 a week and couples who earn $1338.24 a week currently eligible to apply for tenancy.

Under the threshold cuts, which are due to come into force on August 25, the eligibility income for singles will be reduced to a maximum of $715.05 a week and $1112.30 a week for couples.

Households with children will have a higher income threshold of $1747.90.

The most significant cuts come to the household assets test, which will be reduced by 90 per cent for both singles and couples.

The single household asset limits will drop from $482,500 to $48,250, while the couples asset limit will be cut from $616,000 to $61,600.

The State Government says the changes will not affect any current social housing tenants, although people on the social housing wait list will be assessed against the criteria if they are offered a home.

There were more than 17,000 people in SA on the waiting list for social housing in January, according to figures provided to the Budget and Finance Committee.

Human Services Lensink said an “early estimate” from the Housing Authority indicates 800 people currently on the waiting list will be affected by the changes.

She said the current asset limits were “overly generous” and did not target those most in need.

“Social housing should be a safety net for our most vulnerable and that’s exactly why we are drastically reducing income and asset social housing eligibility criteria,” she said.

“These reforms bring South Australia into line with the rest of the nation and any change to eligibility criteria will only affect new customers.”

The State Government says some people who fall outside the new eligibility criteria may still qualify for social housing if they have an urgent need, such as domestic violence or living with a disability.

Lensink told ABC Radio this morning that superannuation is not included as part of the assets test.

Shadow Human Services Minister Nat Cook said Labor was not opposed to a review ensuring those who need housing most urgently can access it, but said the eligibility reforms “won’t build one extra house or stop one person from sleeping on the streets”.

“In reality, people with this asset base were never going to get a house allocated,” she said.

“Instead of wasting precious resources tinkering with the waiting list, the government should be focused on people in crisis and rough sleepers.”

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