Samaritans chief: rental scheme works

THE use of holiday houses as crisis accommodation after the Pasha Bulker storm of June 2007 shows what can be achieved with vacant properties, Samaritans chief executive Cec Shevels says.

It was not a long-term solution, but Mr Shevels said few of the various government solutions to the affordable housing shortage in the past had worked.

"Twenty years ago they issued vouchers thinking that was a good idea but all it did was push up the price of housing," Mr Shevels said.

He liked the federal National Rental Affordability Scheme but worried a backlash against "stimulus funding" meant that it and similar programs were being under-funded.

The scheme is aimed at group housing providers, such as Newcastle's Compass Housing Services. The company manages more than 3300 properties including 2200 in the Hunter Valley and is borrowing $50 million from Westpac to build 170 more affordable housing properties.

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