Vic Govt Launches First Online Social Housing Register
6 September 2016 at 9:33 am
Australia’s first online social housing register has been launched by the Victorian Government in a bid to tackle the state’s housing crisis.
The Victorian Housing Register, launched on Sunday, brings together all of the state’s more than 40 social housing waiting lists in one integrated system.
The register promises to simplify the current application process and provide a fair way for households to access a broad range of social housing options.
Under the new system, people will only need to fill out a single online application form and the information will be shared between the organisations.
Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing Martin Foley said the register recognised the need to make it easier for Victorians to access housing.
“The Victorian Housing Register will mean Victorians will only need to apply once, rather than put their name down with every agency,” Foley said.
“It is a true partnership between government, community housing and homelessness sectors to make access to housing easier for Victorians.”
The register, which will consist of two categories – Priority Access for those most in need and a Register of Interest for people who would like to be considered for social housing, will be rolled out in two stages, beginning with public housing waiting lists.
From next year, community housing organisations will be able to access one register to allocate vacant properties to Victorians in need.
Those currently on waiting lists will be transferred automatically onto the new register.
Melbourne City Mission director, homelessness and justice services Sherri Bruinhout told Pro Bono Australia News they were really supportive of the new registry, which also has the broad support of the sector.
“Anything that can make it easier for people to navigate their way around what is a very complicated system is going to be a benefit,” Bruinhout said.
“So we see at the moment there is a waiting list for public housing and then a waiting list for each of the community housing providers in Victoria, so people often find they are on a number of waiting lists and the nature of homelessness is that people often move their addresses a number of times and every time you move address you have to recontact each of the waiting lists to update your contact details because if an offer comes you don’t want to miss out.
“The problem is that it is very hard to remember to do that and subsequently some people fall off the list or an offer comes and they’ve moved house and they miss out on the offer and their insecure housing just continues because of what is essentially an administrative oversight.”
Bruinhout said the new register would also help the government and community services to understand the scale of the problem.
“The new housing register obviously doesn’t create more housing out of nothing but it is very hard for government and community services to plan to meet the need if we can’t accurately capture what the need is, so the new register gives us an opportunity to make more sense of the waiting list and to understand the full picture of who is waiting for housing and what future housing is required to meet those needs,” she said.
“So at the moment we know that there’s 30-odd thousand people on the waiting list for public housing, how many of those people are also on the waiting list for community housing, we don’t really know.
“So it makes it very hard to have all the information that you require to be able to plan for housing in the future.”
Bruinhout said Melbourne City Mission, who worked with the government ahead of the launch of the new register, was calling on the state government to work with the Commonwealth Government on a comprehensive housing and homelessness strategy.
“We currently don’t have an affordable housing plan for Australia, and as a consequence of that we don’t have a plan for Victoria,” she said.