Carpenter Graeme Twyford and Matteo De Dominicis. Picture: Kenji Sato

A total of $3.8 million in state government funding was announced for Argyle Housing to put in new fences, paint peeling walls, patch leaky roofs, and replace broken windows.

One such house belongs to Ashmont resident Matteo De Dominicis, who “lost everything” when the banks repossessed his farm and home in Bilbul, near Griffith, more than 30 years ago.

The Italian immigrant said he was “very, very happy” to get social housing in Wagga, which is next in line to get the renovation treatment.

“It’s nice to see [my house] more clean, more beautiful, respectable. It’s going to be much better than before,” he said.

“It’s what I like. I like it very much. If I can buy this place I would be very happy.”

Wagga homelessness services say the supply of social housing is woefully inadequate, with about 400 people left languishing on waiting lists – sometimes for years on end.

Mission Australia chief executive James Toomey said Wagga needed more social housing to stem the rise in homelessness.

“We are deeply concerned that a combination of the shortage of social housing and affordable rentals, appallingly low rate of JobSeeker and other allowances and the debts in rent deferrals that some people are accruing is leading to an increase in housing insecurity and homelessness,” Mr Toomey said.

Wes Fang and Melinda Pavey outside Matteo's house. Picture: Kenji Sato

 Wes Fang and Melinda Pavey outside Matteo’s house. Picture: Kenji Sato

Housing Minister Melinda Pavey, who came to Wagga on Wednesday to announce the new funding, admitted that more could be done to increase the stock of social housing.

“As Oliver Twist says, it’s never enough, but we have concentrated resources and support in a way to the regions that we haven’t experienced for many decades,” Ms Pavey said.

“I share that frustration. I’d be frustrated if I was looking for a home and couldn’t find one, but it’s important we look after the homes we do have.”

Ms Pavey said the government was making the biggest social housing spend the region had seen in decades, pointing to the Tolland Renewal Project as one example.

Matteo De Dominicis has built an impressive vege garden in his backyard. Picture: Kenji Sato

 Matteo De Dominicis has built an impressive vege garden in his backyard. Picture: Kenji Sato

Ms Pavey hit back at the suggestion that this was merely “pork barreling” intended to buy back the seat of Wagga after the Coalition’s 2018 byelection defeat.

On Tuesday a NSW Inquiry report led by Greens MP David Shoebridge claimed the government had engaged in “brazen” pork barreling, however Nationals MLC Wes Fang said he embraced those accusations.

“That committee was a Greens-led, city-based, MP-led inquiry, and any inquiry that’s criticising the NSW Nationals of delivering for the regions, I’ll wear that as a badge of honour,” Mr Fang said.

“It isn’t anything other than us delivering for the people we represent, and when you’ve got David Shoebridge standing up criticising us, saying the Nats have done the wrong thing, I’ll wear that as a badge of honour because we’ve delivered for our people. That’s what that report says.”

Argyle Housing’s Wagga team leader Duncan Grosse said the renovations would help improve the quality of life for their tenants and give them a nicer place to live.

“For our tenants, for their quality of life, for the improvement of the houses they live in, this is a great program and we’re happy to be part of it,” Mr Grosse said.

“If it improves the lives of our tenants we’re all for it.”

Chief executive Wendy Middleton said the money would allow them to renovate 300 social houses around Wagga, Campbelltown to Bowral through to Yass and Young.

Ms Middleton said work would be rolled out across the region from June, bringing an economic boost to the local tradies who would be hired to do the renovations.

“This is an amazing opportunity to engage with local regional contractors and work with them throughout the procurement process to ensure that they receive the opportunity to realise the employment and economic benefits of this program,” Ms Middleton said.

“A key focus of this project is to provide modern upgrades to existing dwellings that better meets the needs of current and future tenants.”