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Australia: NSW government funds housing modules for communities affected by floods in Northern Rivers

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The $350 million housing package will deliver up to 2,000 modular homes. (Facebook: Minderoo Foundation) © Provided by ABC NEWS The $350 million housing package will deliver up to 2,000 modular homes. (Facebook: Minderoo Foundation)

Sportsgrounds, showgrounds and crown land will be transformed into "mini-villages" to accommodate thousands of Northern Rivers residents left homeless after the devastating floods.

The NSW government will send up to 2,000 modular homes to communities across the Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore local government areas.

The temporary homes, which will cost a total of $350 million and can house between one to four people, will be supplemented by supporting infrastructure and amenities like toilets.

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The government expects it will take four weeks to prepare sites, after which community housing providers will take control of their management.

The homes could be in place for up to two years while communities rebuild.

Flood Recovery Minister Steph Cooke said they would supplement existing accommodation options.

"In addition to these modular homes, there are a range of other temporary housing options in place including motorhomes, accommodation in recreation camps and 16-weeks' rental support," she said.

Ms Cooke said the number of "moving parts" made arranging the homes complex.

"We've been working around the clock to get to this point and we've got a lot more work to do.

"You've got to identify the right housing, you've got to identify the right providers, you've got to work with council to identify the right sites.

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"We have to be able to stand up all of those connections in terms of power and water."

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the government was committed to working with councils to support flood-affected communities.

"These modular homes are going to make a real difference for individuals and families as they begin the difficult process of rebuilding, recovering and healing over coming weeks and months," he said.

The first confirmed site for the homes will be at the Wollongbar Sports Fields in the Ballina Shire, with 25 accommodation pods for 100 people.

'Taking too long'

Lismore resident Darren Mattock has already registered his interest for the housing package.

He sees it as a "great initiative" and one that will provide some certainty to himself and his son after their home was written off and they had the "awful task" of throwing out all of their possessions.

They have been moving around with "just a carload of things" and staying in a series of temporary living arrangements, in what he says has been stressful situation that has kept him awake at night.

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"It would just mean so much to be able to have a secure home base where we can just ground and get back into some kind of normal daily routine and have a place to go back to at the end of each day," he said.

"And know OK, that's our secure home base. You can go to school from here. I can do some work from here. Our cat will be safe and comfortable here. It would mean a lot."

However, while he understands the organisational efforts involved, he says the help was needed earlier.

"It feels like things are taking a bit too long. Like we're almost two months down the track now since and this project, the modular home program, has only just been announced."

"I'd love to see things happen more quickly. I think that's the key. And I think like, you know, doing everything that's possible to try and understand the complex needs of people."

Ballina mayor Sharon Cadwallader said council staff had been working with the state government to work through the logistics of transporting the homes to the region.

"I'm looking forward to all these people being placed in temporary accommodation that is more permanent than what they've had," she said.

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Ms Cadwallader said the establishment of "mini-villages" would help residents come to terms with the emotional trauma the floods have brought.

"The more people can connect and talk with one another and share experiences, the more healing that is for people."

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has also welcomed the "villages" but like Mr Mattock argues they were needed from "day one".

"It's good to see it in writing. And yesterday, myself and other MPs, we did get a briefing on it. And I've welcomed that as well," she said.

"It will take some time to roll out, it's not going to be here tomorrow, I wish it could be.

"I'm sorry to the people who have to wait but it takes time to get them in, get them onsite and get all the infrastructure around them."

The allocated number of homes won't be enough, according to Ms Saffin but she is pushing for more.

"There's clearly more that we need. We need a comprehensive package. I welcome every dollar, every announcement," she said.

"But the best way to respond to the magnitude of what happened to our community is a comprehensive response and that requires something like the reconstruction commission."

She is encouraging anyone who has been displaced to try and push through the trauma and pain of another application process and register.

"Make sure you do that, because if you register, then you can certainly be on the books, then you can say, 'I need a house'."

Lack of housing options leaves flood-affected Northern Rivers residents in limbo .
Northern Rivers residents whose homes were destroyed by record-breaking floods say a lack of funding for long-term housing options has left many in limbo without a way to move forward, as MPs push for a co-ordinating body to oversee flood funding and rebuilding.The federal and New South Wales' governments have this week announced an extra $800 million in additional flood funding, which excludes the grants offered to Queenslanders to rebuild, raise or sell their flood-affected homes.

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