The national housing crisis is disproportionately affecting some regional communities, including Eden on the Far South Coast of NSW.
Anglicare is currently investigating options for acquiring the Roy Wotton Gardens property at Nullica Close in Eden, with the aim of providing affordable accommodation for seniors, retired veterans and people living with a disability.
John Vilskersts, Anglicare's general manager for seniors living, said the property had the potential to meet critical housing needs in the community by offering 16 low cost units.
"Initial discussions with community members, including the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJASC), have shown that the housing crisis has particularly affected vulnerable people in this region, with hundreds of locals also heavily impacted by housing loss caused by the Black Summer bushfires," Mr Vilskersts said.
Anglicare is working closely with RSL LifeCare, which closed the residential aged care facility at the site in December 2021.
"We are keen to see a positive outcome for the Eden community, and have appreciated working with the RSL LifeCare team as we move forward with plans for urgently needed housing support for people in this area," Mr Vilskersts said.
Anglicare is currently seeking funding to acquire the site, and opened the facility to interested community members on Saturday, April 2.
Mick Brosnan, president of SJASC attended and said the group was very supportive of the concept Anglicare was putting forward.
"Their proposal brings the facility back to the community from where it came, this would be up there as the best scenario we could have hoped for," Mr Brosnan said.
"It offers not only independent senior living but independent disability living, which is very rare in the shire."
Each unit would include disability access, with plans to create private entrances and courtyards.
According to Mr Brosnan, the worst-case scenario would be if a developer were to buy the facility and demolish it in order to build something else.
"We really want the community to get on board, we don't want the community to lose the facility," he said.
"We have seen the Australasia turned around, but on the other hand St Joseph's is just sitting there, empty."
The SJASC president said the group would like to contribute financially if it was able, but was fundraising for other units already.
"All range of accommodation are desperately needed in the shire and the cliché 'every little bit helps' applies. We need the community to stand up and say this is what we want," he said.
"This is in line with council's housing strategy and is an absolute must for our community," Mr Brosnan said.
He suggested Anglicare needed state funding and if possible federal funding, and that community members should lobby local councillors, and write to Michael Holland and Kristy McBain to urge support.
"Be public, speak up... in the scheme of things $1.5million to save a facility and bring it back to the community is nothing."
Councillor Karen Wright also attended the site on Saturday and said while government or philanthropic funding was still needed, she felt it was a fantastic idea to turn a disused facility into an option that could take pressure off current housing shortages in the region.
"Anglicare haven't yet clarified what the vetting process for potential tenants would be, but it won't be on the regular private rental market from what I can gather," Cr Wright said.
"So if there are elderly people or those with a disability who are suited to the units, they won't be up against everyone else in the market."