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  • Renee Cluff

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    High-density public housing block to be built in inner Cairns suburb

    The State Government says strategies are in place to prevent a public housing development comprising 42 one-bedroom units from becoming a mini-ghetto.

    Construction is due to begin in October on the $10.5 million apartment block in Water Street, between Upward and Minnie Streets at Parramatta Park.

    Cairns MP Michael Healy told Tropic Now the development seeks to address a chronic shortage of social housing in the city.

    “Just in our area we need around 2000 properties,” he said.

    “I’ve served as Director and Chair of Access Community Housing so I’ve been very aware of the need for affordable community housing.

    “I’m also very confident the Department is aware that we don’t want to start building ghettos, so there are very strict criteria.”

    A spokesman for the Department of Housing and Public Works has told Tropic Now that it will ensure there is a good mix of tenancy types as part of its strategy.

    “In larger unit complexes in Cairns, the Department looks to transfer people wishing to downsize from larger family homes and allocate to people who may require to be closer to the CBD for medical reasons, or to those with needs such as requiring properties with lift access,” he said.

    “The Department has proactive strategies, including Tenancy Management Plans designed to assist public housing tenancies that may be at risk by working with the tenant to stop disruptive behaviour and helping them meet their tenancy obligations.”

    The project was assessed to ensure it complied with Cairns Regional Council’s Town Planning Scheme.

    Nikki Huddy from Planz Town Planning told Tropic Now the highest demand is for one bedroom dwellings.

    “Ideally social housing is provided in a mixed tenancy building or street, with a mix of unit sizes so people of all ages and walks of life can mix,” she said.

    “Yet the fastest growing category of people needing accommodation is 50 plus single women.”

    Another 14 one-bedroom public housing units are already under construction in Tills Street, Westcourt at a cost of $4.68 million.

    MP Michael Healy said they'll also help house older women.

    “The real challenge is older women and it’s an enormous concern and were doing everything we can do,” he said.

    “Everybody has the right to a place they can call home.”

    Both the Tills and Water Street development building contracts have been awarded to Bryant (Qld) Pty Ltd.