Restoring hope and a “brand-new start” in Dover

A partnership between the Catholic Church in Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government has provided 15 newly constructed social housing units in Dover, for those on the public housing wait list.

Construction of the one and two-bedroom units was undertaken by St Joseph Affordable Homes, a building and construction social enterprise of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart. The state government provided the vacant land and also partly funded the development by way of a public tender. The Church’s social services agency CatholicCare Tasmania funded the remainder.

The community housing development was officially opened and blessed by Archbishop Julian Porteous on 26 November, in a ceremony held at the newly restored St Mary Our Hope Catholic Church, adjacent to the new units.

“The provision of housing is a fundamental human need,” Archbishop Porteous said.

“It is also true that having one’s own house provides a sense of a person’s worth and dignity,” he added.

“Very simply having one’s home ensures that a person is safe and secure and their dignity is affirmed.”

Huon Valley Mayor, Bec Enders, attended the opening and said that with house prices in the area rising dramatically in the last two years, and a boom in population growth expected, the new social housing units would provide much-needed relief.

“Being able to rent a house at an affordable rate provides a lot of dignity, hope, and the ability for people to get up on their feet,” Ms Enders said.

“It is essential to have more affordable housing and to be honest, you don’t get that from the private developers, you get that from not-for-profits.”

The housing development will be managed by community housing provider Centacare Evolve Housing, which manages more than 2,500 properties throughout Tasmania.

Ms Enders said she was particularly impressed by the focus of Centacare Evolve Housing on the wellbeing of their tenants.

“Centacare Evolve had a really big story to tell and their big story is what you can see here today,” she said.

“What we’ve appreciated is this really open, informative, transparent approach by a not-for-profit organisation who have the care and the heart.”

“This is a caring group of people, they want to work with the community and they always have their tenants at heart.”

Ms Enders said she was “delighted” with the quality of the units which she described as “light and airy”, an important aspect from a mental health perspective.

A tenant moving into one of the new units, Michael, said he had been homeless for six months prior to securing one of the homes, due to the rising cost of rental properties. He described his new home as “absolutely magnificent”.

“This is a brand-new start for me,” he said.

“This is opportunity. I never expected it and it will take me a while to process.

“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the diocese and the Council and the government. It gives me a perspective on what can be done through cooperation between the government and the Church. It’s truly humbling.”

Centacare Evolve Housing Chief Executive Officer, Ben Wilson, said this was the agency’s first project in the Huon Valley and there were further projects it the pipeline for the region over the next 18 months. Local government had been “very supportive” throughout the Dover project, Mr Wilson said.

“We spent a lot of time engaging with the Council members about what we’re doing here and what we’re proposing for the future as well.”