Senator Doug Cameron. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMANPhoto: Andrew Perryman.

The Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Senator Doug Cameron, visited Bendigo on Tuesday to discuss a community housing program the Labor Party will commit to if elected into government.

It has pledged to extend the National Rental Affordability Scheme to provide incentives for the construction of 250,000 new homes at 20 per cent below the market rate as part of a community housing initiative.

“One in 10 of the employees building those homes will be an apprentice,” Mr Cameron said as he spoke at the Bendigo TAFE Charleston Road campus.

“This will be good for the TAFE system, good for young people and good for people trying to find housing in the Bendigo area,” he said.

Mr Cameron admitted that building 250,000 dwellings wouldn’t solve the current community housing crisis, as he estimated that up to 500,000 community houses are needed immediately.

“Our community housing and public housing sector has a density of housing of 3.7 per cent, compared to the United Kingdom which has 30 per cent community and public housing,” he said.

There are 1669 social housing dwellings in Bendigo, according to data taken from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website, representing nearly five per cent of the dwellings in the area.

Mr Cameron said the Labor Party would spend upwards of $6 billion on the project in its lifetime, with a plan to build 20,000 homes in its first term of government if elected.

“When you get a roof over your head, you can get your kids educated better, kids are kept out of the jail system and you have security and a position where a family can build,” Mr Cameron said.

Once built, the properties would be available to rent to eligible Australians, including those on low and moderate incomes.

The community housing sector would be provided with 15-year subsidies of $8500 per annum to build new houses, conditional on them being rented at 20 per cent below market rent.