NFP Calls for Housing Vacancy Tax
19 April 2016 at 9:41 am
Not for Profit housing provider, Launch Housing, has proposed a tax on vacant properties to increase funding to support women and children experiencing homelessness after fleeing family violence.
The proposal to the Victorian Government would involve taxing thousands of houses that are left unoccupied for a long period of time and the NFP claimed it could raise up to $78 million annually.
“This would have the dual effect of raising much needed funds to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and increasing the number of properties available on the market,” chief executive officer of Launch Housing, Tony Keenan, said.
“Research indicates there could be between 22,000 and 55,000 vacant properties in Melbourne. However, last year alone, more than 1,000 family violence victims missed out on housing support because there are simply not enough houses available.
“It seems absurd that thousands of perfectly good properties sit empty while Melbourne is in the middle of a housing crisis. We want to quickly move women and children into safe accommodation but we don’t have access to the houses.”
Keenan said the shortfall in appropriate rental properties in Melbourne puts considerable strain on services such as Launch Housing, forcing the organisation to rely on motels and other transient accommodation for families.
“This can compound the trauma a family is already experiencing. A vacancy tax will raise money needed to support these families as well as encouraging investors to make their properties available.”
Keenan said the entire community had a role to play in addressing family violence, including private landlords.
“If investors choose to leave their properties vacant, they should contribute to the social cost of that.
“And if these owners don’t want to pay the tax all they need to do is rent out their property. The tax will only be levied when owners choose to leave them vacant”
Launch Housing is a community agency providing homeless housing and support services, and was formed in July 2015 by a merger between Hanover Welfare Services and HomeGround Services.