The Catholic Church in Tasmania has opened new affordable housing units as part of its continuing effort to relieve housing stress for Tasmanians.
The South Hobart Parish community established a joint project with a view to transforming a vacant parish building into eight single bedroom affordable housing units. Capital grant funding from Housing Tasmania and expertise and a financial contribution from CatholicCare Tasmania has seen the project come to fruition.
“Given the crisis in housing due to extreme rental stress and homelessness, particularly amongst a cohort of women over 55, we decided to convert this building into eight affordable housing units,” said South Hobart Parish Priest, Fr Michael Tate.
“We think this is in total harmony with the needs of Tasmania and Pope Francis’ vision of what it means to be authentically Christian. It’s extremely important that the Church does things which are tangible, which give the stamp of authenticity to our claims.”
While the example of Pope Francis provided inspiration for the project, the name chosen for the apartment complex also has links to the Holy Father.
“Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires and as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he showed particular concern for the poor and the marginalised, [so] we decided to call the apartments ‘Buenos Aires’.
“A fair translation [of Buenos Aires] would be a ‘fair breeze’, and after the storms and turmoils of life for some Tasmanians suffering rental stress, we decided to bring them the refreshing fair breezes of our concern for the poor and marginalised, as a project of the parishioners of South Hobart,” Said Fr Tate.
Seventy two year old pensioner Kay Dolman had been renting in Hobart until the property’s owner decided to sell and move interstate. Kay is the first resident to benefit from the new affordable housing units.
“I was just so grateful to receive a phone call, so grateful for lovely premises and people who treat me with respect. The parishioners were wonderful, they left a box of groceries and so I had the chocolate first!” said Kay.
“For a single person on a pension it’s impossible…to be able to get something to rent. It is essential to the wellbeing of any person to have a secure roof over their head, and to have respectful living…not a hovel.”
Kay and other women identified for tenancy in the new affordable housing units will have access to social housing rental agreements which establish rent at 25% of income, or 75% of market rent. CatholicCare Tasmania has leased the building and caseworkers from Housing Connect and Centacare Evolve Housing will manage tenancies.
Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania officially opened the unit complex in a ceremony held at South Hobart parish.
“It was a project which I was very sympathetic with, and very supportive of, knowing this cohort of women, older women are often in housing crisis,” Her Excellency said.
“I think this is a great idea…it is so important to have stable housing and what I loved about this project is that even though it can be transitional housing, it also has that flexibility for people to stay on, and I think that is so important because moving from one place to another is also unsettling.”
The refurbished building was originally a Catholic primary school in the 1960s and early 1970s, and later housed commercial tenants until 2018. Tasmanian company Wayston Building Services completed the re-development works, with the project taking only 10 months to finalise from the planning stage to completion.
“The whole parish is delighted…and we are very, very happy with the finish achieved by the various tradespeople who worked on the site,” Fr Tate said.
View news coverage of the opening at 7HO-FM: https://www.7hofm.com.au/news/tasmanian-news/90134-units-cater-for-growing-cohort
ABC TV News: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/abc-news-tas (Click on Wednesday 14/6/2019 and scroll to 10minutes 39 seconds)
7 Tasmania Nightly News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzNBX8Pj4tI (play from the beginning of the segment)