Plea made to be champion on housing

PEAK bodies for housing and homelessness services want the next government to be an "absolute champion" when it comes to housing.

Shelter Tasmania and the Tasmanian Council of Social Service yesterday pleaded with political parties to put homelessness and housing high on the agenda this election.

The Liberals' commitment to develop a state policy for affordable housing to encourage the supply of new affordable houses has been welcomed by the groups.

But they also want the state's public housing system to be revitalised, including stimulus for it to develop further, and the expansion of programs such as the HomeShare program that assist low income earners to buy homes.

Shelter Tasmania chief executive Pattie Chugg said she wanted community housing organisations to take on the title of public housing properties so they can raise capital to build more housing stock.

The plea by the groups came as Premier Lara Giddings and Lyons MHA Rebecca White announced Labor would replace heaters in 1100 Housing Tasmania properties if elected.

"This $4 million investment will not only ensure that public housing tenants can stay warm over winter, it will also help them to save money," Ms Giddings said.

The announcement was welcomed by TasCOSS chief executive Tony Reidy, who said he wanted to see the next government be an "absolute champion" for housing.

The groups are also calling on political parties to pressure the federal government to reinstate funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness by June 30 when it ceases.

One service in doubt is the Re- integration for Ex-Offenders program which helps prisoners transition back into society by helping them find accommodation.

Salvation Army team leader Don McCrae said the success of the program had been overwhelming.

Ms Chugg said the funding cut would result in many other tenancy support services having to close, resulting in job losses.

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