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Alliance Calls For Urgent Affordable Housing Action

12 October 2018 at 5:38 pm
Maggie Coggan
With the Victorian state election around the corner, an alliance of housing and homelessness groups are calling for 3,000 public and community housing options to be built every year for the next decade.

Maggie Coggan | 12 October 2018 at 5:38 pm


Alliance Calls For Urgent Affordable Housing Action
12 October 2018 at 5:38 pm

With the Victorian state election around the corner, an alliance of housing and homelessness groups are calling for 3,000 public and community housing options to be built every year for the next decade.

The alliance announced the Whittlesea Declaration on Friday as part of the Everybody’s Home Victorian state election platform, with the the Council to Homeless Persons, (CHP), Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), and Justice Connect among the declaration signatories.

A petition was also launched with endorsements forwarded to Victorian Parliament.

The group said it would take the equivalent of one new Whittlesea – a region of Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs – of houses each year for the next decade to tackle what they described as an out-of-control social housing waiting list.

The Alliance from left: Community Housing Industry Association CEO Lesley Dredge, VCOSS CEO Emma King, CHP CEO Jenny Smith, social housing tenant David Montgomery, the Victorian Public Tenants’ Association’s Martha Haylett, Tenants Union of Victoria CEO Mark O’Brien and Justice Connect CEO Chris Povey.

CHP CEO Jenny Smith told Pro Bono News this figure put to government was a significant, but not unfathomable ask.

“There’s no possibility of putting a dint in our homelessness crisis without this level of commitment,” Smith said.

“[The alliance] has agreed that this is our election ask, and we are making it very clear that we’re united in our agreement.”

VCOSS CEO Emma King said that giving somebody a safe and affordable home was the best weapon against poverty.  

“Having a roof over your head helps you overcome all the other challenges in your life,” King said.

“An urgent escalation in the provision of social housing must be a top priority for Victoria.”

Smith also said they had not plucked this number out of thin air, as it was in line with Infrastructure Victoria’s policy position.

With the state election on 24 November, Smith hoped their public housing proposal was part of every state party’s election platform, but they were yet to receive a response.   

“We don’t know if that’s the case and we won’t know until positions are announced,” Smith said.

Housing Minister Martin Foley announced on Friday $17 million would be given to seven homelessness support organisations, but none of these organisations were signatories of the declaration.

“The assertive outreach teams will see workers on the ground, actively seek out and help people who are experiencing homelessness to access heath and housing services,” Foley said.

Foley also said new modular homes would be built in Dandenong, Geelong and Bacchus Marsh, but there was no indication of how many or when they would be built.

Smith said without affordable housing, human services groups would not be able to do their job or achieve the outcomes they wanted to.

“We’ve got  police under the pump, we’ve got homelessness services under the pump and they are unable to achieve the outcomes that they should be able to without housing that people can afford,” she said.

She encouraged other areas of the social sector to support the alliance and their proposal in the lead up to the election.

“It would be great if more of the community signed up and let everybody who’s seeking election at our forthcoming election know this is an issue of great importance to them,” she said.

Martin Foley’s office did not respond to Pro Bono News’ request for further comment.  

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Rob Wilson says:

    The current public housing waiting in Victoria is 82,000 increasing at a rate of 500 a month (6000/yr). So conservatively, without change the waiting list will rise to 142,000 in ten years time. This Alliance’s proposal to build 30,000 dwellings over the next 10 years will mean that the current waiting list will blow out to 112,000. Both the ALP and Green’s pork barreling pledges promise 40,000 dwelling built over the next 6 years. This is marginally better than the Alliance’s proposal, but on the current figures will only decrease the waiting list by 4,000 households. Note: these are tip of the iceberg figures. The real number of households suffering severe housing stress are much higher. My experience as an ex housing worker tells me that there are man, many more people that should be on the list but are too disheartened to go through the process. It is disappointing that peak social welfare organisations and so called progressive political parties lack the foresight and guts to address the problems of housing shortage.

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