Earlier this year, HomeStart had its largest loan approved - $12 million – to support the Unity Housing Company as they embarked on a project to provide affordable housing and rental opportunities in regional areas in northern South Australia.

The team at Unity have been hard at work and more than 100 new homes have now been built in the Mid-North and Eyre Peninsula, with the aim of nurturing population growth by attracting skilled workers and their young families to the regions, as well as providing an economic boost for local business. Rent on all properties will be subsidised through the National Rental Affordability Scheme and tenants will have the opportunity to purchase the property in the future. There will also be savings through the provision of a 1.5kW photovoltaic solar generation system to reduce tenant electricity bills by up to 50%.

The houses are now standing in towns such as Saddleworth, Burra, Gladstone, Jamestown, Port Pirie, Peterborough, Booleroo Centre, Melrose, Port Augusta and Whyalla – with 22 homes being sold to the market, 60 rented to key workers, and 20 homes for older South Australians and people living with a disability.

What’s the impact?

One hundred houses across that many towns may not appear like a lot. In Saddleworth, for example, there have been 6 new homes built as part of the project.

But while that number could seem trivial when we see houses being constructed all the time in metropolitan Adelaide, 6 new houses will make a significant impact to the sustainability of the town.

The school in Saddleworth has forty students – if they can get that number to fifty, new resources will be made available. However, if the numbers fall to 20, the school will close. These 6 new houses could provide the opportunity for 6 new families and the possibility of more students and therefore more resources.

A bigger town will attract more people, increase business, create new jobs and contribute to a healthy and sustainable community.

Unity Housing Company Chief Executive Officer Matthew Woodward has said that the project “has also contributed to regional economic growth by creating employment opportunities, with more than 60% of trades and services contracted from local businesses during the construction phase.”

“We are very proud of this project, which has been made possible thanks to partners such as HomeStart,” he said.