DUBBO MP Troy Grant says he hopes as many public housing tenants as possible will take the opportunity to buy their own homes when more than 50 properties in East Dubbo's Apollo Estate are sold off as part of a plan to redevelop the area.
"In Dubbo we definitely have an issue with housing availability, and this will be an affordable housing option that did not previously exist," he said.
"Buying a house would bring with it the benefit of the pride of ownership."
Last week Housing NSW hand delivered letters to tenants whose properties had been earmarked for sale across the next two to three years and had been offered the opportunity to either buy the house they were living in or move to another Housing NSW property.
The NSW government's redevelopment plan aims to reduce the concentration of public housing in the Apollo Estate in order to reduce antisocial behaviour.
Mr Grant said as was the case with the former Gordon Estate, the properties would be sold on the proviso that they would be sold to owner-occupiers, with a seven-year ownership covenant in place.
But unlike a major criticism of the Gordon Estate's redevelopment, Mr Grant said, the plan would not mean trouble was moved out of Apollo and dispersed to other parts of the city.
Housing NSW said it had "learned from the West Dubbo relocation process and will use this knowledge in its new Dubbo program to de-concentrate the East Dubbo Apollo Estate and relocate some of its tenants to other suburbs in Dubbo."
"The people being relocated will go into existing social housing stock and to assume that any of the relocations just relate to people who do disrupt is wrong," Mr Grant said.
"Good people, who are the majority of the residents in the Apollo Estate, will be among those offered alternative accommodation.
"People are falsely making the assumption that we're uprooting troublemakers and plonking them in other neighbourhoods to disrupt them, but nothing could be further from the truth."
He said several criteria had been applied in the process to decide which houses would go up for sale.
"Some of it is so people who are occupying properties with bedrooms they don't need can move into smaller properties," he said.
"Some of it is to do with how attractive the house is for sale, and how many public housing properties are in a particular street, because remember there are numerous privately-owned houses in the estate too."
Mr Grant said while the relocation process was in its infancy, it had generally been very well accepted by the local community.
"I believe, along with other strategies that are taking place at the same time, such as tougher tenancy laws and better co-operation between agencies, it will go a significant way to address some of the problems at the estate," he said.
Mr Grant's comments came as Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward announced new initiatives to "free up public housing for those who need it most".
The NSW government will place a new vacant bedroom charge on public housing tenants who chose to continue living in a property with vacant bedrooms, and give priority to transferring tenants who are not using all their bedrooms to move to a more suitably-sized home more quickly.
With more than 17,000 large public housing homes in NSW having three or more bedrooms but only being occupied by singles or couples, there were more than 35,000 vacant bedrooms that could be used to house needy families on the waiting list, Ms Goward said.
"This is only fair and reasonable, both to vulnerable families on the waiting list as well as NSW taxpayers that heavily subsidise public housing," Ms Goward said.
She said a charge of $20 per week for singles and $30 per week for couples would be placed on tenants who refused to consider alternative suitable accommodation.
Mr Grant said he was "enormously in support" of the new measures.
"This is especially relevant in Dubbo, every day of the week I'm hearing about this being an issue," he said.
"It's not a golden panacea that will fix everything, but is among all these things that will help to properly allocate what are finite resources."