Vic Govt Announce $120M to Boost Social Housing
6 September 2016 at 5:31 pm
The Victorian government has announced it will invest nearly $120 million to boost Victoria’s supply of social housing.
Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing Martin Foley joined Member for Essendon Danny Pearson on Tuesday to announce $30 million to kick-start the Flemington public housing estate redevelopment and a regeneration of Flemington’s 22 walk up buildings.
A total of $23 million has also been earmarked to increase the supply of short-term housing for homeless Victorians, with $60 million to increase the number of social housing properties on vacant or underused land currently owned by the director of housing and a further $5 million for the purchase and upgrade of the City Gate Apartments in St Kilda.
Foley said it was a “much-needed” boost of funding.
“This is about increasing the supply of decent, affordable and stable accommodation for those who need it most,” Foley said.
“We’re growing social housing with a much-needed funding boost and upgrading existing properties so they meet modern standards and expectations.”
The move has been welcomed by community organisation Launch Housing.
Launch Housing CEO Tony Keenan said the announcement was the right response to declining rental affordability, long waiting lists for public housing, and increasing rates of homelessness.
“Over the past winter we’ve seen increasing numbers of people, including those sleeping rough, seeking support from homelessness services,” Keenan said.
“There is a clear need for this investment and more social housing. Without new housing we are managing the problem of homelessness, not fixing it.”
The most recent figures from the Department of Health and Human Services show that only 6.4 per cent of Melbourne’s rental properties are affordable for low income households, while more than 32,000 people are on the state’s public housing waiting list.
Keenan said Launch Housing welcomed the government’s plan to use vacant government-owned land for social housing and to expand the Rapid Housing Assistance Fund which will allow registered housing providers to purchase and lease properties for people experiencing homelessness.
“This approach is faster than building new supply from scratch and flexible because it allows for mix of housing stock according to household and geographical need,” Keenan said.
The Rapid Housing Assistance Fund is set to be expanded following a similar model to the recent Expression of Interest process for the registered housing sector to purchase and lease properties for women and children escaping family violence.
The $23 million is initially expected to purchase 60 homes and lease up to 70 properties.
The social housing pipeline program is expected to kick off with Expressions of Interest in November, aiming to boost social housing through partnerships with the housing sector and private construction companies.
The Victorian Government said the project would also have an impact across regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne – including Braybrook, Clayton South, Eastwood, Dandenong North, Norlane, Morwell and Mildura where they said they had the greatest ability to expand social housing.
The government also flagged a plan to release a housing affordability strategy later this year.
Keenan said they looked forward to hearing more about the government’s plan.
“We believe that affordable housing – rather than property prices – should be central to the government’s approach,” he said.