Patricia Gill, Denmark Bulletin
The State Government has stymied local charity Denmark Futures’ bid to buy 31 on the Terrace in rejecting an application for $1.76 million funding.
Denmark Futures chair Trevor Hunt said the funding was vital for the $2.3 million project which would have renovated the guest house, formerly Edinboro House, into 10 furnished micro apartments.
This would have given housing security to vulnerable people in Denmark.
Because the project involved a standing (heritage-listed) building it would be completed quicker, possibly by mid next year, and would have accommodated up to 22 people.
Denmark Futures had responded to a call from Housing Minister John Carey’s visit in April 2022 for innovative solutions, tackling the escalating local housing crisis.
Mr Hunt said that the agreement with a community housing provider to manage the property under a long-term head lease had demonstrated the community’s dedication to creating a sustainable and effective solution.
“Following significant effort, we have been advised of the government’s decision not to proceed, with priority being given to ‘simpler projects’ in other locations,” Mr Hunt said.
“It is concerning that we have been unable to obtain a collaborative approach to assisting the community, without which there is a real risk that small regional and rural communities such as ours will have disadvantage ‘baked in’.”
Mr Hunt said there was no question that the need for rental housing was critical and Denmark’s homelessness rate was more than triple the State average.
Half of the people waiting on one-bedroom social housing were more than 65 years old.
Mr Hunt said that early feedback from the Department of Communities had been incorporated in the application before it was lodged earlier this year.
He was disappointed that despite the dedication of skilled volunteers and in-kind and financial contributions from more than 130 members of the community, the application was not even being considered.
Mr Hunt called on the Denmark community to implore Mr Carey and the Department of Communities to reconsider the decision and to engage in a constructive dialogue to find a way forward.
The Denmark Shire Council was due to consider a development application for the proposal soon.
This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 17 August 2023.